Vogel Wakefield blog

Vogel Wakefield blog

June
10
2014

The hard path of the whistleblower: apropos An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris

Whistelblowers past and present: George Picquart, French Army, and Julie Bailey, Cure the NHS

Whistelblowers past and present: George Picquart, French Army, and Julie Bailey, Cure the NHS

 

Robert Harris’s novel An Officer and a Spy is not only a cracking read but a psychological study in the gathering courage of a whistleblower in an organisation gone to bad.

It tells the story of the Dreyfus affair – the wrongful conviction and incarceration for spying of a Jewish officer in the French army at the end of the 19th Century. It is told through the eyes of Georges Picquart, a spy chief who is both a party to the downfall of Dreyfus and a prime mover in the uncovering of Dreyfus’s framing by the military establishment.

Much of the power of the narrative derives from the fact that Picquart is a reluctant whistleblower. The youngest colonel in the army, he has a great career ahead of him. Moreover, he shares the casual anti-semitism of his age and has no great sympathy for Dreyfus. Nonetheless, when he discovers evidence that implicates a different officer, Esterhazy, in the spying for which Dreyfus was blamed, he cannot ignore the injustice and assumes his senior officers will think likewise.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nav menu