An Officer and a Spy

An Officer and a Spy is a 2013 historical fiction thriller by the English writer and journalist Robert Harris. It tells the true story of French officer Georges Picquart from 1896-1906, as he struggles to expose the truth about the doctored evidence that sent Alfred Dreyfus to Devil's Island.

An Officer and a Spy
US Hardcover edition dustjacket
AuthorRobert Harris
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreThriller, historical fiction
Publication date
26 Sept 2013[1]
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages496 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN0091944554 (first edition, hardback)

Plot summaryEdit

Upon being promoted to run the Statistical Section, the top secret headquarters of French military intelligence, Georges Picquart begins to discover that the evidence used to convict Alfred Dreyfus of espionage, which resulted in his imprisonment for life on Devil's Island, is flimsy at best. As he investigates further, he discovers that the military and the government doctored much of the evidence. Moreover, the spy who actually passed the information Dreyfus was convicted of sending to the Germans is, in fact, still operating. Warned off the investigation by his superiors, Picquart persists, risking his career and his life, to free an innocent man from unjust imprisonment - and to stop a spy operating within the military, who has gone unpunished.


The novel won the Walter Scott Prize (2014),[2] and the American Library in Paris Book Award (2014).[3]


Robert Harris was inspired to write the novel by his friend Roman Polanski's longtime interest in the Dreyfus affair.[4] Harris followed up the novel with a script of the same story, titled D, with Polanski announced as director in 2012.[5]

Although set in Paris, the film was initially scheduled to shoot in Warsaw in 2014, for economic reasons.[6] However, production was postponed after Polanski moved to Poland for filming and the U.S. Government filed extradition papers. The Polish government eventually rejected them, by which time new French film tax credits had been introduced, allowing the film to shoot on location in Paris. It was budgeted at 60 million euros and was again set to start production in July 2016,[7] however its production was postponed again as Polanski waited on the availability of a star, whose name was not announced.[8]

It was announced in September 2018 that the project had been retitled J'accuse, and would go into production in the fall of 2018, starring Jean Dujardin as Picquart and co-starring Mathieu Amalric and Olivier Gourmet. It is produced by Alain Goldman and distributed by Gaumont.[9] Jean Dujardin announced on November 26, 2018 that filming had begun that day.[10] Dujardin announced on April 28, 2019 that filming had been completed.[11]


  1. ^ "Penguin Books". Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Robert Harris wins Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction". BBC News. BBC. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  3. ^ "The American Library in Paris 2014 book award winner announcement". American Library in Paris. 3 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  4. ^ Anthony, Andrew (29 September 2013). "Robert Harris: 'Whenever a crowd is running one way, I run the other'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Roman Polanski to Direct Dreyfus Affair Drama 'D'". Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Polanski wants to make next movie in Poland". Archived from the original on 23 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Polanski tournera " Dreyfus " en France". 24 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Polański delays filming of spy thriller". Archived from the original on 5 April 2016.
  9. ^ "J'accuse : Jean Dujardin chez Roman Polanski pour son film sur l'affaire Dreyfus". Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^