Intelligent, ambitious and a rising star in the French artillery, Captain Alfred Dreyfus appeared to have everything: family, money, and the prospect of a post on the General Staff. But his rapid rise had also made him enemies - many of them aristocratic officers in the army's High Command who resented him because he was middle-class, meritocratic and a Jew. In October 1894, the torn fragments of an unsigned memo containing military secrets were retrieved by a cleaning lady from the waste paper basket of Colonel Maximilien von Schwartzkoppen of the German embassy in Paris. When French intelligence pieced the document back together to uncover proof of a spy in their midst, Captain Dreyfus, on slender evidence, was charged with selling military secrets to the Germans, found guilty of treason by unanimous verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment on the notorious Devil's Island. The fight to free the wrongfully convicted Dreyfus - over twelve long years, through many trials - is a story rife with heroes and villains, courage and cowardice, dissimulation and deceit. One of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in history, the Dreyfus affair divided France, stunned the world and unleashed violent hatreds and anti-Semitic passions which offered a foretaste of what was to play out in the long, bloody twentieth century to come. Today, amid charged debates over national and religious identity across the globe, its lessons throw into sharp relief the conflicts of the present. In the hands of historian, biographer and prize-winning novelist Piers Paul Read, this masterful epic of the struggle between a minority seeking justice and a military establishment determined to save face comes dramatically alive for a new generation.
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