Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century
Metropolitan Books, $35, 560 pp.
In 1894 Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a rising star on the French General Staff, was accused of spying for Germany. The evidence pointing to Dreyfus was flimsy and his accusers could come up with no reasonable motive, but Dreyfus was a Jewish outsider in an army dominated by Catholics, and in a country where virulent anti-Semitism was a powerful political force. He was convicted by a military tribunal and sent to Devil’s Island, where he spent more than four years suffering from the brutal heat,...
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Thomas Kselman teaches European history at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Death and the Afterlife in Modern France (Princeton), and is currently writing a book on the history of religious liberty in nineteenth-century France.