The Man on Devil's Island

The Man on Devil's Island Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair That Divided France

Paperback (07 Apr 2011) | English

Save $3.30

  • $19.46
  • $16.16
Add to basket

Includes delivery to USA

10+ copies available online - Usually dispatched within 48 hours

Synopsis

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2010 and the 2010 National Jewish Book Award for Biography

Ruth Harris writes beautifully and engagingly on a moment in French history that polarized society and undermined the French state; the repercussions of which were felt up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

At the end of September 1894 a charlady stole an undated and unsigned letter from the wastepaper bin of the German military attaché in Paris. Torn to pieces but stuck back together by French intelligence, this document contained French military secrets. By the middle of October a Jewish captain in the army called Alfred Dreyfus was accused of being its author. As it turned out, he was entirely innocent, but at the time few questioned the verdict of the subsequent court martial, nor the unanimous decision to sentence him to a life of penal servitude. Public opinion was outraged, and the War Minister, General Auguste Mercier, asked for the reintroduction of the death penalty so Dreyfus could be guillotined. Although the request was turned down, Dreyfus was still subjected to special conditions: rather than going to New Caledonia like other transported convicts, he was sent to the much harsher Devil's Island off the coast of French Guiana, and condemned to solitary confinement in murderous conditions. The French authorities did not expect - and probably did not want - him to survive.

So undisputed was Dreyfus' conviction that no one had any inkling it would be queried, let alone that the case would become the scandal that nearly brought down the French state. It changed the political course of the nation and transformed the way the country viewed itself and was viewed by others.

About the Publisher

Penguin Books

Penguin Books

The first ten paperback Penguin books appeared in 1935 costing 6d each (the price of a packet of cigarettes). Since then the Penguin list has developed enormously, but still aims to bring the best writing to the widest possible audience. Penguin Paperbacks now range from Booker Prize-winning contemporary authors, to mass market bestsellers, with successful history, biography and general non-fiction as well.

Book information

ISBN: 9780141014777
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Imprint: Penguin Books
Pub date:
DEWEY: 944.0812092
DEWEY edition: 22
Language: English
Number of pages: 541
Weight: 384g
Height: 198mm
Width: 130mm
Spine width: 25mm