Alfred Dreyfus: The Man at the Center of the Affair (Jewish Lives) (Hardcover)

Alfred Dreyfus: The Man at the Center of the Affair (Jewish Lives) By Maurice Samuels Cover Image

Alfred Dreyfus: The Man at the Center of the Affair (Jewish Lives) (Hardcover)


Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
An insightful new biography of the central figure in the Dreyfus Affair, focused on the man himself and based on newly accessible documents
On January 5, 1895, Captain Alfred Dreyfus’s cries of innocence were drowned out by a mob shouting “Death to Judas!” In this book, Maurice Samuels gives readers new insight into Dreyfus himself—the man at the center of the affair. He tells the story of Dreyfus’s early life in Paris, his promising career as a French officer, the false accusation leading to his imprisonment on Devil’s Island, the fight to prove his innocence that divided the French nation, and his life of quiet obscurity after World War I.
Samuels’s striking perspective is enriched by a newly available archive of more than three thousand documents and objects donated by the Dreyfus family. Unlike many historians, Samuels argues that Dreyfus was not an “assimilated” Jew. Rather, he epitomized a new model of Jewish identity made possible by the French Revolution, when France became the first European nation to grant Jews full legal equality. This book analyzes Dreyfus’s complex relationship to Judaism and to antisemitism over the course of his life—a story that, as global antisemitism rises, echoes still. It also shows the profound effect of the Dreyfus Affair on the lives of Jews around the world.
Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism at Yale University. He is the author most recently of The Betrayal of the Duchess: The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern. He lives in Branford, CT.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300254006
ISBN-10: 0300254008
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Jewish Lives
“The affair and its consequences, admirably and precisely presented in this study, compel us to be more vigilant when demagogues seek to divide us through the casual, and often purposeful, misuse of language.”—Ronald C. Rosbottom, Wall Street Journal

Alfred Dreyfus is an admirable introduction not only to its nominal subject but to . . . great historical events.”—Geoffrey Wheatcroft, New York Review of Books

“The evidence (or lack of it) that prompted Dreyfus’s initial arrest is a complex tale with many characters. Samuels provides a brilliant, detailed analysis . . . [and a man] capable of great strength, courage and sensitivity.”—JP O’Malley, Irish Independent

“A deeply sympathetic reexamination the life of Alfred Dreyfus and the role antisemitism played in the affair that enflamed the French Republic.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Authoritative. . . . In stressing both Dreyfus’s Jewishness and the forces brought to bear on him because of it, Samuels is offering a warning about complacency. Anti-Semitism will always be there, and it will always be capable of mass destruction. And it takes a mass mobilization by the forces of liberalism to hold it at bay.”—Sean Durns, Commentary

“By reading this concise new biography by Maurice Samuels, we realize how much the Dreyfus Affair has shaped antisemitism in the modern era. . . . Samuels writes so well that you don’t feel hit over the head with the message. But once you look at this history, you understand the present with new eyes.”—Bettina Berch, Jewish Book Council

“Lucid and elegantly written.”—Alessandra Stanley, Air Mail

“The Dreyfus affair is one of the moments where both modern anti-Semitism and crusading journalism and mass protest were born. Maurice Samuels provides a complex, lucid, narrative retelling that will simultaneously enrage any reader and inspire them with its tales of the stubborn search for justice. Even if you’ve read about Dreyfus before, you need to read this.”—Adam Gopnik, author of The Real Work

“An intimate portrait of the defiant rectitude of Alfred Dreyfus, the wrongfully accused French military officer whom Mark Twain called ‘the most infamously misused Jew of modern times.’ At a time when truth is flouted, bigotry rampant, and nationalism resurgent, Maurice Samuels provides an important account of a French society inflamed and divided by hatred of a deeply patriotic Jew. Exiled, abused, left for dead, Dreyfus never wavered in his fight for truth and a society of equal treatment for all. That fight continues to this day.”—Roger Cohen, Paris bureau chief, New York Times

“In this pioneering biography, Maurice Samuels restores Alfred Dreyfus to the affair that bears his name. In doing so, he rehabilitates an often disregarded form of modern Jewish identity and shows how one Jewish life could matter so much to so many others. A triumph.”—Samuel Moyn, author of Liberalism against Itself