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  • Published: 2 June 2014
  • ISBN: 9780099580881
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 624
  • RRP: $22.99

An Officer and a Spy

The gripping Richard and Judy Book Club favourite

IN THE HUNT FOR A SPY, HE EXPOSED A CONSPIRACY. The winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2014, this is a gripping historical thriller from Robert Harris - Sunday Times bestselling author of Fatherland and The Ghost.


***Winner of the 2014 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction***

Paris, 1895: an army officer, Georges Picquart, watches a convicted spy, Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of a baying crowd.

Dreyfus is exiled for life to Devil's Island; Picquart is promoted to run the intelligence unit that tracked him down.

But when Picquart discovers that secrets are still being handed over to the Germans, he is drawn into a dangerous labyrinth of deceit and corruption that threatens not just his honour but his life...

A breathtaking historical spy thriller from Robert Harris, author of Munich, Conclave and the acclaimed Cicero trilogy

  • Published: 2 June 2014
  • ISBN: 9780099580881
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 624
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is the author of thirteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave, Munich and The Second Sleep. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby. His next book, V2, is coming out in autumn 2020.

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Praise for An Officer and a Spy

Many readers prize him as our supreme exponent of the "literary" thriller. His novels are not difficult - they are whizzing page-turners. They also combine masterly suspense and mystery with historical insight and political shrewdness. His latest novel is no exception: it is a cracking read from start to finish. It offers a bravura display of Harris's fictional skills. The first is sureness of historical touch. In both general and specific terms the period comes alive. There is no need to wait for the film: it can scarcely be more exciting than the book.

Sunday Times

A compelling tale of power, cover-ups and idealism.


Harris is committed to the belief that you can get at a truth as a novelist that you can't as an historian. and he does give us the look, sensations, sounds and smells as no historian could. it is informative, accomplished and highly enjoyable

Evening Standard

The Dreyfus Affair. has now been brilliantly retold by Robert Harris. This is a book about spies and their deceits and the unreasonable demands that are made of them by their hard-to-please political governors. It is 1895 with a strong undercurrent of 2003. The real subject then is espionage and the broader, mutually manipulative relationship between the intelligence "community" and the political class. Along the way, Harris gives us plenty of espionage tradecraft. The eavesdropping, the handwriting analysis, the forgery.

The Times

The story is a gift to any novelist fascinated by the murkier aspects of politics - and Robert Harris takes full advantage, serving up a perfect read for those who like their literary thrills to come with some immaculately researched history. the tension is cranked up further with every agonising twist.

Reader's Digest

Robert Harris who pulls out a surprise with each new novel, has turned to this political scandal which "came to obsess France and ultimately the entire world". None of the characters is entirely fictional, promises the author's note. Therein lies the only difficulty with this taut thriller, as the reader wonders how much is history and how much is Harris.

Daily Express

The story charges along at full throttle, in a vibrant account adorned with masterly detail


Immaculately researched but delivered with such a deft touch that it never feels like a history lesson.superlative.

Mail on Sunday

Harris lightly fictionalizes the historical narrative of the anti-semetic persecution of Alfred Dreyfus - brilliantly retold.

Times Saturday Review

Gripping from beginning to end

Sunday Times

'informative, accomplished and highly enjoyable.

Evening Standard

A master storyteller at the top of his game

Mail on Sunday

An Officer and a Spy is written in elegant prose reminiscent of the 19th-century historical novel, but its form is a hybrid of the contemporary thriller, the spy novel and the courtroom drama. It is persuasive and engaging on all of these levels, while providing a unique and fresh reading of the Dreyfus Affair. It's also timely, serving as a warning against religious bigotry and groupthink.

Irish Times

People who have read my fiction reviews in this paper will be familiar with my assertion that the glory of imaginative literature rests in its ability to make the reader think and feel at the same time. This marvellous novel does just that. It may well be the best book Robert Harris has yet written - and that's saying something.


It is tantalising to speculate on what liberties an author has taken when fictionalising a true story but the facts of the Dreyfus Affair are so incredible that Harris has no need to embellish. He fashions an enthralling frame and lets the astonishing tale unfold.

Independent on Sunday

The choice of narrator is sure-footed. Georges Picquart makes a fascinatingly ambiguous figure around whom to anchor this tale of moral absolutes.

Literary Review

A compelling narrative.

Jewish Chronicle

A gripping tale, its shocking power heightened by Harris's narrative skills.

Financial Times

Robert Harris is the master of the political thriller and his latest finds him in fine form.

Press Association

Both gripping thriller and Buchanesque adventure: its revelations impeccably paced and its original material used to poignant effect. An Officer and a Spy is carried throughout by the peerless characterisation of Picquart. But most of all it is the honest, 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 it leaves us in no doubt as to an old story's continuing resonance.

Christobel Kent, Guardian

An event that obsessed France and the world is retold here, in forensic detail, with great clarity and humanity.

Country Life

I have just had a preview copy of Robert Harris's new novel An Officer and a Spy, a thriller based on the Dreyfus case. Like John le Carré, Harris is interested in rogue intelligence, corrupted by politics. Unlike le Carré he does not lay it on too thick. The story of Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer convicted in France for spying for the Germans then exonerated, is one of history's great political dramas. Harris backs the power of argument and reason. Politicians reportedly took Charles Moore's Thatcher biography with them on holiday. Harris's thriller would be perfect for the trip home.'

Sarah Sands, Editor, Evening Standard

Harris's gift for breathing life into historical characters is on full display in this brilliant fictionalisation of L'affair Dreyfus.


The fact that this novel is seriously riveting is a testament to Robert Harris's storytelling power; he conjures knuckle-blanching suspense from a very well-known piece of history.


Harris' retelling of the Dreyfus case is as taut and exciting as anything by Forsyth or Follet.


Menace and suspense twist tight in a narrative of tremendous tension.


Superb . . . Harris demonstrates his unique ability to recreate historical events and turn them into spellbinding thriller . . . Written with scalpel-like precision and the elegance we expect of Harris, there is a passion here that justifies calling it a masterpiece.


A brilliant retelling of a scandal that became one of the most famous miscarriages of justice . . . the most gripping book I've read this year.

BOOKS OF THE YEAR, Mail on Sunday

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