CAPTAIN DREYFUS: THE STORY OF MASS HYSTERIA by Nicholas Haiasz

CAPTAIN DREYFUS: THE STORY OF MASS HYSTERIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A re-examination of the Dreyfus affair is concerned not only with the procedures (or rather lack of) through which an innocent man was convicted by a military clique, but also with the larger issue of prejudice which was to involve the conscience of a nation and incite Zola's famous 'accuse. Intensely serious, awkward and rather graceless in his reverse, Dreyfus as a Jew-was an easy victim in the wave of wishful thinking which identified him as the writer of the borderean sent to the military attachÉ at the German Embassy in Paris, while Esterhazy, a wastrel, a scoundrel and a spy, was really responsible. Accused and convicted largely on preconceived guilt, Dreyfus was sent off to Devil's Island, and prejudice continued to blind the public during Esterhazy's trial, Dreyfus' retrial. During the next years, what was at first a family quarrel among the bourgeoisie spread to other classes; Zola's thundering attack and trial seared the army; hysteria mounted within the country, and there was a tidal wave of anti-semitism; a new trial at Rennes, five years later, brought the same verdict- but a pardon- and the vindication was still to come... This 19th century case, which in the violence-and distortion- of feelings it aroused has a meticulous re-appraisal and recording here; it's hard to imagine though that it will again fire public interest.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1955
Publisher: Simon & Schuster