This historical novel is a vignette of Emile Zola’s life and intervention into the fate of Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer and had been convicted of treason in a court-marshall in 1895. Many felt he was wrongly charged, including Emile Zola, who wrote an article about the unfair treatment and tried to defend him. This got Zola charged with criminal action on Dreyfus’ behalf, whereupon he fled France hoping to escape imprisonment.
The meat of the story is the belief that one must speak up for others being mistreated, even at personal cost. Zola was warned and yet did not hesitate to come to Dreyfus’ aid as best he could. This is a story of people helping the less fortunate and standing up for what is right. I hope this quality never disappears from our culture. Dreyfus’ wife and children suffered for society’s ill treatment of Jews in general and Dreyfus in particular. Jews were severely discriminated against in France and many other places in the late 1800s and for many years, and like many other cultural groups it is through no fault of their own.
Kudos to Mahurin for bringing this story to light.