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February 28 , 2011

The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus


The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus by Jean-Denis Bredin (translated from the French by Jeffrey Mehlman, 59 illustrations; a newly edited edition co-published by Plunkett Lake Press and George Braziller, Inc.)

On an autumn morning in 1894, Captain Dreyfus was summoned to appear for a routine inspection; instead, as he took down a letter dictated by a senior officer, he was summarily accused of high treason. So began a twelve-year series of events that included his imprisonment on Devil’s Island, the publication of Emile Zola’s passionateJ’Accuse, the Rennes retrial, and the pardon and final rehabilitation of 1906. As the Dreyfus case turned into the Affair, the history of a single military career came to display the conflicts that were tearing France apart: military defeat, anti-Semitic furor, and the place of traditional values in a country still reeling from the turbulence of the French Revolution. Told with an historian’s insight and a novelist’s skill, The Affairmakes fascinating and informative reading about one of the most celebrated episodes in modern history.

“There have been many books about the Dreyfus Affair, but Jean-Denis Bredin's book is one of the best of them — lucid, well-organized, informed by a fine sense of drama.” — John Gross, The New York Times

“[a] critically acclaimed study” — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“If one is limited to a single book about the Dreyfus case and its consequences, this should be it. Bredin has told this story with precision, passion, and a vivid sense of character.” — The New York Review of Books

“A brilliant and fascinating book. What is most remarkable about The Affair is the skill and sensitivity with which the author places it in its essential historical setting. It is also a gripping — though terrible — story superbly told.” — The Atlantic

“This is the most judicious and absorbing account to date of the Dreyfus Case.” — The Boston Globe

“This is certainly the best book on the Dreyfus case now available in the English language.” — San Francisco Examiner

“Bredin is crystal clear in his gripping narrative of the complex case. His tapestry glows with all the color of the Belle Epoque and its extravagances.” — Chicago Sun-Times

“There have been other books on the Affair, but I can’t imagine any of them coming even close to Bredin’s work. He is brilliant at placing the myriad elements of the Affair in context with verve and lucidity. It should be a model for future historians.” — San Francisco Chronicle

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