Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters



Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters In December , Captain Alfred Dreyfus, A Brilliant French Artillery Officer And A Jew Of Alsatian Descent, Was Court Martialed For Selling Secrets To The German Military Attach In Paris Based On Perjured Testimony And Trumped Up Evidence The Sentence Was Military Degradation And Life Imprisonment On Devil S Island, A Hellhole Off The Coast Of French Guiana Five Years Later, The Case Was Overturned, And Eventually Dreyfus Was Completely Exonerated Meanwhile, The Dreyfus Affair Tore France Apart, Pitting Dreyfusards Committed To Restoring Freedom And Honor To An Innocent Man Convicted Of A Crime Committed By Another Against Nationalists, Anti Semites, And Militarists Who Preferred Having An Innocent Man Rot To Exposing The Crimes Committed By Ministers Of War And The Army S Top Brass In Order To Secure Dreyfus S ConvictionWas The Dreyfus Affair Merely Another Instance Of The Rise In France Of A Virulent Form Of Anti Semitism In Why The Dreyfus Affair Matters, The Acclaimed Novelist Draws Upon His Legal Expertise To Create A Riveting Account Of The Famously Complex Case, And To Remind Us Of The Interest Each One Of Us Has In The Faithful Execution Of Laws As The Safeguard Of Our Liberties And Honor

10 thoughts on “Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters

  1. says:

    I find the Dreyfus Affair fascinating So much fuss for so long about seemingly so little one unimportant and unjustly convicted man But so many fault lines converge on this case around race and ethnicity and Frenchness, anxieties about the modern world, political structures and corruption, the legacy of a century of revolution and political instability, the army and military values, religion and the place of religious institutions in the modern state, education and social mobility and class I find the Dreyfus Affair fascinating So much fuss for so long about seemingly so little one unimportant and unjustly convicted man But so many fault lines converge on this case around race and ethnicity and Frenchness, anxieties about the modern world, political structures and corruption, the legacy of a century of revolution and political instability, the army and military values, religion and the place of religious institutions in the modern state, education and social mobility and class And these fault lines meant that France tore itself apart about this case for years This isn t the book to read if you want to know the basics of the case, but it makes useful connections between the Affair and modern anxieties and tensions

  2. says:

    I read this to complement my reading of An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris as it s a non fiction account of why the dreyfus affair matters I was fascinated by the historical account of the trial, the cover up, the retrial, the pardon and the final reversal of all charges in 1906 It validated the depth of Harris s research and his ability to capture the personalities involved As with the Harris book, Dreyfus is actually the least interesting and least likable person caught up in this web I read this to complement my reading of An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris as it s a non fiction account of why the dreyfus affair matters I was fascinated by the historical account of the trial, the cover up, the retrial, the pardon and the final reversal of all charges in 1906 It validated the depth of Harris s research and his ability to capture the personalities involved As with the Harris book, Dreyfus is actually the least interesting and least likable person caught up in this web of intrigue What I didn t like about Begley s book was his insistence on linking the Dreyfus case to our modern day hysteria his word about terrorism and why we see all foreigners especially those of Arab origin as terrorists, regardless of any specific evidence Ironic that in his preface, written right after Obama s inauguration, Begley was positive that Obama would make good on his promise to close Guantanamo Bay and to restore basic civil liberties and justice to those incarcerated there That s why to Begley the Dreyfus Affair Matters

  3. says:

    Touches on the overall history of why it matters in terms of the forfeiture of rights and not as much in terms of the implications on the history of France.

  4. says:

    Eine relative kurze Darstellung ber die Dreyfus Aff re Generell finde ich Begleys Schreibstil etwas langweilig bzw bekommt er mich nicht dazu, dass ich mich gut in die beschriebenen Dinge hineindenken kann Das Problem hatte ich auch schon bei seiner Kafka Biographie Zum Beispiel verwendet er wenige oder gar keine Zeilen, um die Hauptakteure vorzustellen, wodurch die vielen Personen leider viel zu beliebig erscheinen Manchmal ist es nicht klar, wer gleich wieder dieser gerade bschriebene Je Eine relative kurze Darstellung ber die Dreyfus Aff re Generell finde ich Begleys Schreibstil etwas langweilig bzw bekommt er mich nicht dazu, dass ich mich gut in die beschriebenen Dinge hineindenken kann Das Problem hatte ich auch schon bei seiner Kafka Biographie Zum Beispiel verwendet er wenige oder gar keine Zeilen, um die Hauptakteure vorzustellen, wodurch die vielen Personen leider viel zu beliebig erscheinen Manchmal ist es nicht klar, wer gleich wieder dieser gerade bschriebene Jemand ist, und wieso das Beschriebene jetzt f r den Gesamtzusammenhang wichtig ist.Dennoch f hle ich mich durch Begley gut informiert Vor allem ist es ihm gelungen, einerseits den Rechtsmissbrauch und die folgende Verschleierung gut zu beschreiben Unter den Vorzeichen von virulentem Antisemitismus und Militarismus wurde hier ein unschuldiger Mensch f r das fragliche Wohl einer Nation geopfert.Schon zu Beginn wird klar, dass Dreyfus Charakter die Aff re zun chst beg nstigt hat Allein durch die Art, in der er auf die Anschuldigungen reagierte, machte er sich zur Zielscheibe Als relativ uncharismatischer Typ, der noch dazu einfach zu sehr der Obrigkeit h rig war was er als Jude zum Teil auch musste, um sich nicht negativ zu exponieren , mangelte es ihm schlicht am Zeug zum gro en Protest Sp ter wurde er auch zu einer denkbar ungeeigneten Galleonsfigur f r die Bewegung der Dreyfusaden.Das Buch stellt viele u erst interessante Fragen, wie z.B Bestimmt die Gesinnung allein schon die Seite, auf der man sich in politischen Konflikten wiederfindet W re Dreyfus selbst Drefus Anh nger geworden, wenn er nicht Dreyfus gewesen w re , Macht man sich schuldig bzw verd chtig, wenn man bestimmte Erwartungen der ffentlichkeit zur ckweist bzw gar nicht registriert , Wie lange dauert es, bis man im Rechtsstaat zu seinem Recht kommen kann Nat rlich besteht noch der Bezug zu Guantanamo, der im Buch explizit gemacht wird und nachvollziehbar ist, auch wenn die einschl gigen Passagen irgendwie aufgesetzt anmuten.Ich fand es am schockierendsten wie unbewegbar das Rechtssystem blieb, als Dreyfus l ngst als unschuldig galt, und dass es noch Jahre dauerte, bis Dreyfus zumindest teilweise wieder rehabilitiert war Als Platit de l sst sich das so zusammenfassen Nicht jeder, der im Recht ist, bekommt schlie lich recht Wenn man sich selbst in die Situation hineindenkt, dann erkennt man erst, dass es sich um eine absolute Horrorvorstellung handelt l ngst nach der Heimkehr von der Teufelsinsel in die vermeintlich sichere Heimat.Wichtig am Buch erscheint mir vor allem, dass es vor Augen f hrt, dass das, was heute als politisch moralische Selbstverst ndlichkeit aufegfasst wird n mlich, dass man auf der Seite von Dreyfus steht alles andere als die automatische Reaktion w re, die man auch heute h tte Wie sonst l sst sich die laue Unterst tzung der zu unrecht inhaftierten Guantanamo Insassen erkl ren Auch f r den Fall Dreyfus m sste man sich ehrlich die Frage stellen, ob man solch eine Person, die hnlich vorurteilsbelastet angeklagt wird, unterst tzen w rde Die Entscheidung f r das Richtige erscheint im R ckblick immer so etwas von ausgemacht, dass selbst die Leute, die sich mit historischen F llen auseinandersetzen, nicht immer mitrefklektieren, dass im Hier und Jetzt politisches Engagement wie in der Aff re Dreyfus immer ein Kampf, vor allem auch mit einem selbst, ist

  5. says:

    This book explains in granular detail everything that I had hoped to learn in my French history classes back in college Begley sets the scene nicely by putting the Dreyfus Affair into the context of culture, how the French were feeling, what the people on the street saw and read, and why the French might have been so eager to find a scapegoat in Dreyfus Further, Begley s description of the living conditions while Dreyfus was in prison was another eye opening part of the story Apropos to t This book explains in granular detail everything that I had hoped to learn in my French history classes back in college Begley sets the scene nicely by putting the Dreyfus Affair into the context of culture, how the French were feeling, what the people on the street saw and read, and why the French might have been so eager to find a scapegoat in Dreyfus Further, Begley s description of the living conditions while Dreyfus was in prison was another eye opening part of the story Apropos to that, he makes the obvious connection to the not so secret American military prisons around the world, and this is ultimately my one issue with the book The book is written in a way that might be interpreted as critical of the US, and that gets a little distracting as the book progresses, and you re not sure if you are reading a political commentary with history to support it, or history with political commentary to support it And yes, the title says right off the bat that it is going to explain why the Dreyfus Affair is relevant to us today, but the leap from the turn of the 20th century to the turn of the 21st century is a bit jarring and while I agree with many of the links that Begley makes, they can be abrupt at times I would have appreciateddetail of the Dreyfus Affair fallout and the implications from then till now, rather than then and now I do think this book would be a great addition to any university level History or Poli Sci class, as well as an important addition to the history of modern Jewish culture Begley strongly implies that assimilation does not exist, but rather acculturation and with that, there will always be the us and them

  6. says:

    Como uma institui o militar pode cometer um atentado contre os direitos humanos mais fundamentais, como um governo democr tico pode aceitar injusti as e at crimes de alguns dos seus mais altos oficiais, como uma parte importante da opini o publica pode cair no racismo e na persegui o de alguns compatriotas em nome da seguran a nacional Para o Louis Begley, o dio e a cegueira que levaram ao caso Dreyfus s o as mesmas que reapareceram no tratamento dos prisioneiros de Guantanamo A difere Como uma institui o militar pode cometer um atentado contre os direitos humanos mais fundamentais, como um governo democr tico pode aceitar injusti as e at crimes de alguns dos seus mais altos oficiais, como uma parte importante da opini o publica pode cair no racismo e na persegui o de alguns compatriotas em nome da seguran a nacional Para o Louis Begley, o dio e a cegueira que levaram ao caso Dreyfus s o as mesmas que reapareceram no tratamento dos prisioneiros de Guantanamo A diferencia sendo para ele que, 12 anos depois do vergonhoso primeiro processo, Dreyfus foi reabilitado e que seu maior apoio, Picquart, chegou a ser nomeado Ministro da Guerra Em Guantanamo, 14 anos depois, 100 presos ainda esperam uma solu o e os respons veis dessa monstruosidade jur dica n o tiveram a minima chamada da justi a americana Se o livro do Louis Begey sem duvida uma boa s nteses do Caso Dreyfus e do seu impacto na sociedade e na pol tica francesa no ambiente belicoso dos anos noventa, ele pouco argumento no paralelo com os Estados Unidos do inicio do s culo XXI e a sua interessante ideia ainda merece ser trabalhada

  7. says:

    Begley has written about the French military s abuse of power and the miscarriage of justice that followed regarding the false charge of treason leveled against Alfred Dreyfus The most important aspect of the book is how the coverup and the unraveling of the coverup tore the country apart Parallels to American military snafus and how they too polarized Americans makes you speculate of the nature of power, and how easily abuse of that power can undermine basic human rigts and justice.I gave it Begley has written about the French military s abuse of power and the miscarriage of justice that followed regarding the false charge of treason leveled against Alfred Dreyfus The most important aspect of the book is how the coverup and the unraveling of the coverup tore the country apart Parallels to American military snafus and how they too polarized Americans makes you speculate of the nature of power, and how easily abuse of that power can undermine basic human rigts and justice.I gave it only one star, because it was so poorly written Begley needed an editor to force him to organize and present his material in a cogent way that would not leave the reader confused and irritated Begley got lost in his own story and repeated himself and was unable to maintain a timeline flow that would enable the reader to understand this issue

  8. says:

    20.01.2012 Soeben mit der Lek re begonnen 05.02.2012 Ein einigerma en aufw hlendes Buch Man glaubt die Geschehnisse in groben Z gen zu kennen Ich muss zugeben, dass ich sehr, sehr wenig ber diese Angelegenheit wusste Begley schildert in diesem journalistischem Buch den chronologischen Ablauf dieser riesigen Gaunerei Ebenso die gesellschaftliche Auswirkung und die Zerw rfnisse die diese Angelegenheit in Frankreich hervorgerufen hat Man darf den Glauben an 100 %ige Integrit t des Milit rs n 20.01.2012 Soeben mit der Lek re begonnen 05.02.2012 Ein einigerma en aufw hlendes Buch Man glaubt die Geschehnisse in groben Z gen zu kennen Ich muss zugeben, dass ich sehr, sehr wenig ber diese Angelegenheit wusste Begley schildert in diesem journalistischem Buch den chronologischen Ablauf dieser riesigen Gaunerei Ebenso die gesellschaftliche Auswirkung und die Zerw rfnisse die diese Angelegenheit in Frankreich hervorgerufen hat Man darf den Glauben an 100 %ige Integrit t des Milit rs nicht in Frage stellen galt f r die eine Seite die andere Seite stellte die Integrit t der Wahrheit an erste Stelle Die Erkenntnisse dieser Angelegenheit finden auch noch heute ihre Best tigungIm Hinblick auf meine Proust Lekt re sehr aufschlu reich

  9. says:

    A fine overview of the case and of anti Semitism in fin de siecle France, but the balance of the book felt odd a mid chapter interpolation interrupting the account by describing policies of the Bush administration s prosecution of al Qaeda suspects and the Guantanamo Bay detention regime, but then not returning to that subject again to complete the idea or explore the parallels Instead Begley concludes the book with a mini essay on Proust s response to l affaire Dreyfus in his works Jean San A fine overview of the case and of anti Semitism in fin de siecle France, but the balance of the book felt odd a mid chapter interpolation interrupting the account by describing policies of the Bush administration s prosecution of al Qaeda suspects and the Guantanamo Bay detention regime, but then not returning to that subject again to complete the idea or explore the parallels Instead Begley concludes the book with a mini essay on Proust s response to l affaire Dreyfus in his works Jean Santeuil and A la recherche du temps perdu

  10. says:

    This is a nice relatively short history of the Dreyfus Affair written in a matter of fact way The wraparound points out some of the similarities between the treatment of Dreyfus and our treatment of the prisoners at Guantanemo The Dreyfus Affair shows how easy it is for a military tribunal to reach incorrect and unjust results as a result of their preconceptions, reinforced by the groupthink of the military.Interesting, but not compelling.

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