Cover image for An officer and a spy
Title:
An officer and a spy
ISBN:
9780804165693

9780804165679
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
[Westminster, MD] : Books on Tape, [2014]
Physical Description:
13 sound dicsc (965 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact discs.
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Summary:
This is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as a chillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage. Paris in 1895. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of twenty-thousand. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that "proved" Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus's guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military. As evidence of the most malignant deceit mounts and spirals inexorably toward the uppermost levels of government, Picquart is compelled to question not only the case against Dreyfus but also his most deeply held beliefs about his country, and about himself.
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Summary

Summary

Robert Harris returns to the thrilling historical fiction he has so brilliantly made his own. This is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as a chillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage.

Paris in 1895. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of twenty-thousand. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that "proved" Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus's guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military. As evidence of the most malignant deceit mounts and spirals inexorably toward the uppermost levels of government, Picquart is compelled to question not only the case against Dreyfus but also his most deeply held beliefs about his country, and about himself.

Bringing to life the scandal that mesmerized the world at the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Harris tells a tale of uncanny timeliness--a witch hunt, secret tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, the fate of a whistle-blower--richly dramatized with the singular storytelling mastery that has marked all of his internationally best-selling novels.


Author Notes

Author Robert Harris was born in Nottingham, England in 1957. He attended King Edward VII College and Selwyn College. He has worked as a BBC journalist, the Political Editor of the Observer, and a columnist for The Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph. He was named Columnist of the Year by the British Press in 2003. He has written both fiction and nonfiction books and currently lives in Berkshire, England.

His works of fiction include; An Officer and a Spy, The Fear Index, Pompeii, Enigma, Fatherland, Dictator, and Conclave.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harris (Fatherland) provides easily the best fictional treatment of the Dreyfus Affair yet, in this gripping thriller told from the vantage point of French army officer Georges Picquart. Major Picquart is present on the day in 1895 that Alfred Dreyfus is publicly degraded as a traitor to his country, before his exile to Devil's Island. Soon afterward, Picquart is promoted to colonel, to assume command of the Statistical Section, which is actually the army's espionage unit. Picquart comes across evidence of another traitor spying for the Germans, and his investigation uncovers something unsettling: the handwriting of the spy, Walsin Esterhazy, is a perfect match for the writing on the letters that the French government claimed were from Dreyfus. Furthermore, review of the classified evidence against the exile reveals nothing of substance. Picquart pursues the truth, at personal and professional risk, in the face of superiors eager to preserve the official version of events. Harris perfectly captures the rampant anti-Semitism that led to Dreyfus's scapegoating, and effectively uses the present tense to lend intimacy to the narrative. First printing of 100,000. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Harris' instantly absorbing thriller reanimates the Dreyfus Affair of 1895 through Colonel Georges Picquart, who exposed the conspiracy to frame Dreyfus for supplying the Germans with French Army secrets. After serving as the minister of war's observer at Dreyfus' military trial, Picquart is promoted to lead the army's espionage unit. Picquart immerses himself in the dark work and quickly discovers evidence of another soldier leaking information to the German attache. When he's denied permission to launch a sting operation, Picquart joins forces with a Surete (police) detective to gather evidence through an unofficial surveillance scheme. Convinced that the secret evidence that convicted Dreyfus implicates his current target instead, Picquart investigates further and finds a conspiracy originating in the army's top ranks. In the anti-Semitic climate of this pivotal period in French society, Picquart's insistence that Dreyfus the Jew may be innocent creates dangerous, powerful enemies. Harris combats the predictability that can haunt fictional accounts of well-known events by teasing out the tale through Picquart's training in espionage and investigation, his unsanctioned detecting, and the complex intrigues he navigates to secure a reexamination of Dreyfus' case. Great for fans of Ken Follett, John le Carre, Louis Bayard, Caleb Carr, and Martin Cruz Smith, all of whom also portray historical intrigues and investigations with intricate detail and literary skill. Also try Jason Matthews' recently published Red Sparrow (2013).--Tran, Christine Copyright 2010 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THE DREYFUS AFFAIR, which splintered French society of the fin de siècle and continued to divide it well into the 20th century, began on the morning of Oct. 15, 1894, with the arrest for high treason of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was a 35-year-old artillery officer, a high-ranking graduate of the elite École Polytechnique and the École de Guerre (the French Army's war college), and was chosen on the basis of his grades and overall performance to train with the army's general staff. Robert Harris, in his fine novel "An Officer and a Spy," lucidly retells the famous, bizarrely complicated and chilling story. His narrator is Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, who was promoted to that grade six months after Dreyfus's arrest and put in charge of the general staff's statistical section (the coy sobriquet of a counterintelligence unit), and went on to become one of Dreyfus's improbable and indispensable saviors. Dreyfus's presence on the general staff was a double anomaly, annoying to his colleagues and superiors. Merit-based appointments had been introduced only a few years earlier, replacing the comfortable system by which general staff officers co-opted candidates who resembled them: sons of noble or solid bourgeois families educated at Catholic schools and St. Cyr, the military academy founded by Napoleon. Far more remarkable and significant, Dreyfus was a Jew - the first ever admitted into the precincts of the Holy Ark, as the very anti-Semitic general staff was called with unconscious irony. So when evidence surfaced suggesting a traitor at the general staff was passing secrets to the Germans, suspicion quickly fell on Dreyfus. Relying on a dubious handwriting analysis and disregarding the absence of a motive or any other proof, the war minister General Mercier had Dreyfus arrested. Dreyfus's court-martial trial, held in closed session, began on Dec. 19. Mercier had been warned early on that the case was weak. Now his personal observer at the trial - that same Georges Picquart - told him acquittal seemed likely. Afraid of the scandal that would erupt over his frivolously charging an officer with treason and risking a confrontation with Germany, Mercier and his cohort swung into action. A major from the statistical section took the stand and perjured himself, incriminating Dreyfus. Mercier dispatched an officer to hand the tribunal a secret file, containing documents that had been altered or forged so as to point to Dreyfus's guilt. These were accompanied by a memorandum (prepared by a staff officer) that gave them the appropriate nefarious slant. The secret file, the perjured testimony and the forged documents all amounted to felonies under French law. But they had the desired effect. After only an hour of deliberation, during which the file was read aloud, the judges found Dreyfus guilty and sentenced him to military degradation and imprisonment for life. On Jan. 5, 1895, before a mob of thousands screaming "Death to the Judas, death to the Jew," insignia of rank, epaulets, buttons and braid were ripped off Dreyfus's uniform, his sword was broken and he was forced to perform the "Judas parade," a march around an immense courtyard lined with soldiers. He was deported to Devil's Island, a nearly barren rock formation measuring less than one square mile off the coast of French Guiana, and held in solitary confinement until June 1899 - when he was returned to France after the nation's highest court ordered a new trial. News of the irregularities at the court-martial had gotten out and, eventually, Dreyfus had many defenders who had worked unremittingly for that result. (They included the celebrities Émile Zola, Anatole France and Georges Clemenceau, as well as the young Marcel Proust.) But it is possible that the real traitor, Maj. Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy, a dissolute and incorrigible liar and schemer who belonged to an illegitimate branch of the great Central European aristocratic family, would have never been discovered without the unflinching courage and rectitude of Georges Picquart. Picquart was the soul of honor and an officer of exceptional cultivation, bravery and promise. He was clearly destined to rise to the top of the army hierarchy, and he did - partly because of his role in the Dreyfus Affair - becoming a general after Dreyfus's rehabilitation and eventually serving as minister of war. Drawing on the vast trove of books about the affair and some newly available materials, Harris tells a gripping tale. Once Picquart had discovered evidence linking Esterhazy to the German military attaché, he determined to his own satisfaction that the handwriting in evidence belonged to him, not Dreyfus, and that the documents handed to the military tribunal were clumsy forgeries and drivel. He resolved not to go to the grave carrying the secret: The man on Devil's Island had to be freed, and the real traitor punished. But when he made his views known, the fury of the army's top brass turned full blast on him. Cast as a renegade whistle-blower, an ingrate who would not let a Jew rot to save the honor of generals, he was imprisoned and cashiered from the army before he was finally redeemed. FOR ALL HIS suffering and rectitude, it so happens that Picquart, like Dreyfus, was a prig as well as a hero, but Harris makes him sufficiently charming and vulnerable to engage the reader's sympathy. Yet if the novel has a fault, it is precisely the decision to view the affair through Picquart's eyes. The focus is necessarily too narrow, failing to take in the historical background, without which some of what happened may seem more puzzling than it was. For instance, the savage determination of the generals not to admit a mistake, and the public's support of that position, has to be seen in the context of the army's status at the time as the one respected (indeed venerated) French institution. The French had been crushed in the 1870 war with Prussia and lost most of two huge regions, Alsace and Lorraine. But the army had reconstituted itself, and was seen as the instrument of inevitable revenge. To impugn the honor of its chiefs was unforgivable. Similarly, the callousness that allowed the generals and junior officers who knew the truth (or should have) to leave an innocent man in jail cannot be dissociated from the extraordinary wave of virulent anti-Semitism that had washed over France since the 1880s. Yes, there was a traitor peddling secrets (unimportant ones, as it turned out), yes it was the duty of the statistical section to ferret him out, and certainly the frenzy of the cover-up and the all-too-familiar impulse to punish the whistle-blower instead of the culprit played its role in the viciousness with which Picquart was persecuted and framed - but it is hard to believe that an officer as manifestly blameless as Dreyfus would have been charged with treason and railroaded to life imprisonment if the stereotype of the Jew as the man without a country, riddled with vices and by his nature a traitor, had not permeated the French psyche. LOUIS BEGLEY is the author of "Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters" and a number of other books. His latest novel, "Memories of a Marriage," was published in 2013.


Guardian Review

In 1895, in a France under the shadow of war and rife with antisemitism, Jewish captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of espionage. Public humiliation, exile and solitary incarceration on Devil's Island followed. However, Emile Zola championed his cause, and Dreyfus was eventually exonerated. Born out of a film project with Roman Polanski, An Officer and a Spy is not one of Harris's alternative histories: he is dealing with truth, using original sources, Dreyfus's own writings and historical analysis. Zola may have been credited with Dreyfus's rehabilitation, but relatively few will have heard of Harris's hero, Picquart: the French officer who was the official observer of Dreyfus's public humiliation before a baying mob, and who ended as his saviour. Picquart is a marvellous observer, an outsider everywhere. But it is the implacable soldier's dawning realisation that the institutions in which he has placed his faith are appallingly corrupt that has the most tenacious hold on the reader. It still has power to shock - and leaves us in no doubt as to an old story's continuing resonance. - Christobel Kent In 1895, in a France under the shadow of war and rife with antisemitism, Jewish captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of espionage. Public humiliation, exile and solitary incarceration on Devil's Island followed. However, Emile Zola championed his cause, and Dreyfus was eventually exonerated. - Christobel Kent.


Kirkus Review

Labyrinthine machinations having to do with the Dreyfus Affair, the late 19th-century spy case that disclosed a latent anti-Semitism in French culture. The main character and narrator of Harris' novel is Col. Georges Picquart, former professor of topography at the cole suprieure de guerre in Paris. While on the surface, topography might seem a peripheral issue to the military, according to Picquart, it involves "the fundamental science of war," since it requires surveying terrain and generally looking at landscape from a military perspective. Chosen to head a counterespionage agency looking into the crimes allegedly committed by Dreyfus, Picquart has already been rewarded with a nice promotion and seems convinced of Dreyfus' guilt. But in investigating the case, Picquart begins to have doubts about this guilt and is fairly sure espionage is continuing through Maj. Esterhazy, a Germany spy who's been passing along the secrets Dreyfus has been accused of disclosing. Military officials are not pleased that Picquart is coming up with evidence that might exonerate Dreyfus since, by this time, Dreyfus has already been convicted and condemned to spend time on Devil's Island, recently reopened solely for him. Gen. Gonse, for example, cautions Picquart not to be overly enthusiastic in his inquiries concerning Dreyfus since, after all, he's already been convicted and so his guilt is proved. Public opinion, alas, is on the side of Gonse, for much of the population, inflamed by the popular press, already sees Dreyfus as a traitor and delights in conveying their virulent anti-Semitism. Espionage, counterespionage, a scandalous trial, a coverup and a man who tries to do right make this a complex and alluring thriller.]]]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Harris's (Lustrum) latest work is a fictional telling of the Dreyfus Affair, which occurred during the turn of the 20th century in France. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish captain in the French army, is set up and unjustly convicted of being a spy, receiving a life sentence in the dreaded Devil's Island prison. Georges Picquart is a military man who held many positions in the army, including that of a high-ranking intelligence officer. Picquart discovers evidence of Dreyfus's innocence but must fight stubborn superiors and public opinion to exonerate him. Listeners may benefit from a print copy of the book as the French names can be hard to follow. David Rintoul's narration transports readers to a time over 100 years ago. -VERDICT This masterly intertwining of fact with fiction is a must for thriller fans. ["This is an atmospheric and tense historical thriller, with a flawed but honorable protagonist fighting against entrenched complacence and bigotry," read the review of the Knopf hc, LJ 1/14.]-Sean Kennedy, Cleveland Marshall Coll. Law Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 Major Picquart to see the Minister of War . . ." The sentry on the rue Saint-Dominique steps out of his box to open the gate and I run through a whirl of snow across the windy courtyard into the warm lobby of the hôtel de Brienne, where a sleek young captain of the Republican Guard rises to salute me. I repeat, with greater urgency: "Major Picquart to see the Minister of War . . . !" We march in step, the captain leading, over the black-and-white marble of the minister's official residence, up the curving staircase, past suits of silver armour from the time of Louis the Sun King, past that atrocious piece of Imperial kitsch, David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps at the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, until we reach the first floor, where we halt beside a window overlooking the grounds and the captain goes off to announce my arrival, leaving me alone for a few moments to contemplate something rare and beautiful: a garden made silent by snow in the centre of a city on a winter's morning. Even the yellow electric lights in the War Ministry, shimmering through the gauzy trees, have a quality of magic. "General Mercier is waiting for you, Major." The minister's office is huge and ornately panelled in duck-egg blue, with a double balcony over the whitened lawn. Two elderly men in black uniforms, the most senior officers in the Ministry of War, stand warming the backs of their legs against the open fire. One is General Raoul le Mouton de Boisdeffre, Chief of the General Staff, expert in all things Russian, architect of our burgeoning alliance with the new tsar, who has spent so much time with the Imperial court he has begun to look like a stiff-whiskered Russian count. The other, slightly older at sixty, is his superior: the Minister of War himself, General Auguste Mercier. I march to the middle of the carpet and salute. Mercier has an oddly creased and immobile face, like a leather mask. Occasionally I have the odd illusion that another man is watching me through its narrow eye-slits. He says in his quiet voice, "Well, Major Picquart, that didn't take long. What time did it finish?" "Half an hour ago, General." "So it really is all over?" I nod. "It's over." And so it begins. "Come and sit down by the fire," orders the minister. He speaks very quietly, as he always does. He indicates a gilt chair. "Pull it up. Take off your coat. Tell us everything that happened." He sits poised in expectation on the edge of his seat: his body bent forwards, his hands clasped, his forearms resting on his knees. Protocol has prevented him from attending the morning's spectacle in person. He is in the position of an impresario who has missed his own show. He hungers for details: insights, observations, colour. "What was the mood on the streets first thing?" "I would say the mood was . . . expectant." I describe how I left my apartment in the predawn darkness to walk to the École Militaire, and how the streets, to begin with at least, were unusually quiet, it being a Saturday--"The Jewish Sabbath," Mercier interrupts me, with a faint smile--and also freezing cold. In fact, although I do not mention this, as I passed along the gloomy pavements of the rue Boissière and the avenue du Trocadéro, I began to wonder if the minister's great production might turn out to be a flop. But then I reached the pont de l'Alma and saw the shadowy crowd pouring across the dark waters of the Seine, and that was when I realised what Mercier must have known all along: that the human impulse to watch another's humiliation will always prove sufficient insulation against even the bitterest cold. I joined the multitude as they streamed southwards, over the river and down the avenue Bosquet--such a density of humanity that they spilled off the wooden pavements and into the street. They reminded me of a racecourse crowd--there was the same sense of shared anticipation, of the common pursuit of a classless pleasure. Newspaper vendors threaded back and forth selling the morning's editions. An aroma of roasting chestnuts rose from the braziers on the roadside. At the bottom of the avenue I broke away and crossed over to the École Militaire, where until a year before I had served as professor of topography. The crowd streamed on past me towards the official assembly point in the place de Fontenoy. It was beginning to get light. The École rang with the sound of drums and bugles, hooves and curses, shouted orders, the tramp of boots. Each of the nine infantry regiments quartered in Paris had been ordered to send two companies to witness the ceremony, one composed of experienced men, the other of new recruits whose moral fibre, Mercier felt, would benefit by this example. As I passed through the grand salons and entered the cour Morland, they were already mustering in their thousands on the frozen mud. I have never attended a public execution, have never tasted that particular atmosphere, but I imagine it must feel something like the École did that morning. The vastness of the cour Morland provided an appropriate stage for a grand spectacle. In the distance, beyond the railings, in the semicircle of the place de Fontenoy, a great murmuring sea of pink faces stirred behind a line of black-uniformed gendarmes. Every centimetre of space was filled. People were standing on benches and on the tops of carriages and omnibuses; they were sitting in the branches of the trees; one man had even managed to scale the pinnacle of the 1870 war memorial. Mercier, drinking all this up, asks me, "So how many were present, would you estimate?" "The Préfecture of Police assured me twenty thousand." "Really?" The minister looks less impressed than I had expected. "You know that I originally wanted to hold the ceremony at Longchamps? The racetrack has a capacity of fifty thousand." Boisdeffre says flatteringly, "And you would have filled it, Minister, by the sound of it." "Of course we would have filled it! But the Ministry of the Interior maintained there was risk of public disorder. Whereas I say: the greater the crowd, the stronger the lesson." Still, twenty thousand seemed plenty to me. The noise of the crowd was subdued but ominous, like the breathing of some powerful animal, temporarily quiescent but which could turn dangerous in an instant. Just before eight, an escort of cavalry appeared, trotting along the front of the crowd, and suddenly the beast began to stir, for between the riders could be glimpsed a black prison wagon drawn by four horses. A wave of jeers swelled and rolled over it. The cortège slowed, a gate was opened, and the vehicle and its guard clattered over the cobbles into the École. As I watched it disappear into an inner courtyard, a man standing near to me said, "Observe, Major Picquart: the Romans fed Christians to the lions; we feed them Jews. That is progress, I suppose." He was swaddled in a greatcoat with the collar turned up, a grey muffler around his throat, his cap pulled low over his eyes. I recognised him by his voice at first, and then by the way his body shook uncontrollably. I saluted. "Colonel Sandherr." Sandherr said, "Where will you stand to watch the show?" "I haven't thought about it." "You're welcome to come and join me and my men." "That would be an honour. But first I have to check that everything is proceeding in accordance with the minister's instructions." "We will be over there when you have finished your duties." He pointed across the cour Morland with a trembling hand. "You will have a good view." My duties! I wonder, looking back, if he wasn't being sarcastic. I walked over to the garrison office, where the prisoner was in the custody of Captain Lebrun-Renault of the Republican Guard. I had no desire to see the condemned man again. Only two years earlier he had been a student of mine in this very building. Now I had nothing to say to him; I felt nothing for him; I wished he had never been born and I wanted him gone--from Paris, from France, from Europe. A trooper went and fetched Lebrun-Renault for me. He turned out to be a big, red-faced, horsey young man, rather like a policeman. He came out and reported: "The traitor is nervous but calm. I don't think he will kick up any trouble. The threads of his clothing have been loosened and his sword has been scored half through to ensure it breaks easily. Nothing has been left to chance. If he tries to make a speech, General Darras will give a signal and the band will strike up a tune to drown him out." Mercier muses, "What kind of tune does one play to drown a man out, I wonder?" Boisdeffre suggests, "A sea shanty, Minister?" "That's good," says Mercier judiciously. But he doesn't smile; he rarely smiles. He turns to me again. "So you watched the proceedings with Sandherr and his men. What do you make of them?" Unsure how to answer--Sandherr is a colonel, after all--I say cautiously, "A dedicated group of patriots, doing invaluable work and receiving little or no recognition." It is a good answer. So good that perhaps my entire life--and with it the story I am about to tell--may have turned upon it. At any rate, Mercier, or the man behind the mask that is Mercier, gives me a searching look as if to check that I really mean what I say, and then nods in approval. "You're right there, Picquart. France owes them a lot." All six of these paragons were present that morning to witness the culmination of their work: the euphemistically named "Statistical Section" of the General Staff. I sought them out after I had finished talking with Lebrun-Renault. They stood slightly apart from everyone else in the southwest corner of the parade ground, in the lee of one of the low surrounding buildings. Sandherr had his hands in his pockets and his head down, and seemed entirely remote-- "Do you remember," interrupts the Minister of War, turning to Boisdeffre, "that they used to call Jean Sandherr 'the handsomest man in the French Army'?" "I do remember that, Minister," confirms the Chief of the General Staff. "It's hard to believe it now, poor fellow." On one side of Sandherr stood his deputy, a plump alcoholic with a face the colour of brick, taking regular nips from a gunmetal hip flask; on the other was the only member of his staff I knew by sight--the massive figure of Joseph Henry, who clapped me on the shoulder and boomed that he hoped I'd be mentioning him in my report to the minister. The two junior officers of the section, both captains, seemed colourless by comparison. There was also a civilian, a bony clerk who looked as if he seldom saw fresh air, holding a pair of opera glasses. They shifted along to make room for me and the alcoholic offered me a swig of his filthy cognac. Presently we were joined by a couple of other outsiders: a smart official from the Foreign Ministry, and that disturbing booby Colonel du Paty de Clam of the General Staff, his monocle flashing like an empty eye socket in the morning light. By now the time was drawing close and one could feel the tension tightening under that sinister pale sky. Nearly four thousand soldiers had been drawn up on parade, yet not a sound escaped them. Even the crowd was hushed. The only movement came from the edges of the cour Morland, where a few invited guests were still being shown to their places, hurrying apologetically like latecomers at a funeral. A tiny slim woman in a white fur hat and muff, carrying a frilly blue umbrella and being escorted by a tall lieutenant of the dragoons, was recognised by some of the spectators nearest the railings, and a light patter of applause, punctuated by cries of "Hurrah!" and "Bravo!," drifted over the mud. Sandherr, looking up, grunted, "Who the devil is that?" One of the captains took the opera glasses from the clerk and trained them on the lady in furs, who was now nodding and twirling her umbrella in gracious acknowledgement to the crowd. "Well I'll be damned if it isn't the Divine Sarah!" He adjusted the binoculars slightly. "And that's Rochebouet of the Twenty-eighth looking after her, the lucky devil!" Mercier sits back and caresses his white moustache. Sarah Bernhardt, appearing in his production! This is the stuff he wants from me: the artistic touch, the society gossip. Still, he pretends to be displeased. "I can't think who would have invited an actress . . ." At ten minutes to nine, the commander of the parade, General Darras, rode out along the cobbled path into the centre of the parade ground. The general's mount snorted and dipped her head as he pulled her up; she shuffled round in a circle, eyeing the vast multitude, pawed the hard ground once, and then stood still. Excerpted from An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.