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A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 | [Alistair Horne]

A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

The Algerian War lasted from 1954 to 1962. It caused the fall of six French governments, led to the collapse of the Fourth Republic, and came close to provoking a civil war on French soil. More than a million Muslim Algerians died in the conflict, and as many European settlers were driven into exile. From the perspective of half a century, it looks less like the last colonial war than the first postmodern one.
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Publisher's Summary

The Algerian War lasted from 1954 to 1962. It caused the fall of six French governments, led to the collapse of the Fourth Republic, and came close to provoking a civil war on French soil. More than a million Muslim Algerians died in the conflict, and as many European settlers were driven into exile. Above all, the war was marked by an unholy marriage of revolutionary terror and state torture.

At the time, this brutal, intractable conflict seemed like a French affair. But from the perspective of half a century, it looks less like the last colonial war than the first postmodern one: a full-dress rehearsal for the amorphous struggle that convulsed the Balkans in the 1990s and that now ravages the Middle East, struggles in which religion, nationalism, imperialism, and terrorism assume unparalleled degrees of intensity.

©1977 Alistair Horne; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[This] universally acclaimed history...should have been mandatory reading for the civilian and military leaders who opted to invade Iraq." (Washington Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (137 )
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  •  
    Judith Pennington, NJ, United States 07-12-08
    Judith Pennington, NJ, United States 07-12-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fascinating book"

    I've always been very aware of the Algerian War, but I never knew about it in any depth. This books goes from its beginning to the end of the French role in Algeria. The rise of De Gaulle, and the OAS are startling to those who didn't live through this period in history.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 06-28-09
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 06-28-09 Member Since 2007

    Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb"

    I knew very little about this war. I do remember seeing it constantly referenced in the news as a child in late fifties and sixties. Being an amateur historian I eventually knew more than just the basics but until I read this book - whoa! Utterly fascinating and extremely well researched.
    The reader is wonderful and greatly leverages all aspects of this well written history.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hika 09-28-08
    Hika 09-28-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    70
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    "Well Done"

    Well researched, written, and narrated. Interesting book about a conflict I knew close to nothing about.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Robert BEHRMAN 03-29-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book is incredible."

    When I left my last military command, I purchased several copies of this book to give to my subordinates. The book professes to provide as complete an account as possible of the Algerian war, and the author seems to do so with professionalism, integrity, and honesty. I have simply never read as fair or as comprehensive a historical account of war as this. The limitations in source material are explicitly recognized in the introduction, and the opinions of the author and conclusions exogenous to the subject at hand are both left to the preface and eminently reasonable and defensible. An incredible, fascinating read.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 03-15-09
    Leslie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 03-15-09 Member Since 2008
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    "excellent"

    Very interesting story, writing in a balanced way. Very well read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. J. Frank Wash DC 11-04-08
    A. J. Frank Wash DC 11-04-08 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Insightful account of a war very relevant today"

    A Savage War of Peace is an excellent account of the French in Algeria. The author provides us with excellent analysis while still maintaining a lack of bias. The lessons that can be drawn from this account are very relevant today for fighting insurgencies.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason G. Cons ithaca 05-03-12
    Jason G. Cons ithaca 05-03-12 Member Since 2004

    pros and cons

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fabulous history"

    This is an absolutely great listen. I have learned a tremendous amount from this book. It is worth noting that this is a classic, liberal account which seems to work from the assumption that the great tragedy of the war is that the liberal and progressive idea of Algerie Francais was never realized. It is a bit dated in language at times. But overall, it's a riveting account.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    charles c edmondson Rockvale, TN USA 01-02-14
    charles c edmondson Rockvale, TN USA 01-02-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great book but you need to know French"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Savage War of Peace to be better than the print version?

    No


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This was a story about many people during a very violent time in Algeria so having a favorite character wasn't an option.


    What aspect of James Adams’s performance would you have changed?

    Since I don't speak French and it is very difficult to look up French phrases while listening to an Audio book please don't use them. I feel I missed some very important point when the narrator rattles something off in French. As the book progressed this really got annoying and the producer of this audio needs to stick to English please.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. Way to long for that.


    Any additional comments?

    Please use English in English audios or provide a translation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-28-13
    01-28-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Template for 21st Century Warfare"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. This book is a detailed primer on the urban, counter-insurgency warfare that we as U.S. citizens will face in the post Cold War era. If you want to understand the dynamics of our occupation of Iraq, this book will help you see that our experience was part of a long standing pattern,


    What other book might you compare A Savage War of Peace to and why?

    Chris Hedges: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. They both help the U.S. citizen, who is not part of our professional army, wrap his or her head around the consequences of modern war.


    Which character – as performed by James Adams – was your favorite?

    This book is not about interesting characters. It's about how the 90% of people who end up as spectators of a war are affected by it.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    General Charl's decision to join the coup. He seemed like a good man, knowing he was doing the wrong thing, but he was overcome by the sense of responsibility to the thousands of Algerians soldiers he promised he would never abandon to the FLN.


    Any additional comments?

    Only my thanks to Alistair Horne for writing such an enlightening book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Florida 03-18-12
    Christopher Florida 03-18-12
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    "3.5 would be a better score"

    First if I have to rate this book on a 5 point scale I guess I have to give it a 3, but really I would say it's higher than that but I can't justify giving it a 4.

    This book covers a point in history I knew almost nothing about -- which can make it more interesting but also more interesting since I don't know the outcome of each event. The downside is trying to keep track of who is who, a nearly 30-hour book mixed with French and foreign locations can make it hard to follow at times, but normally skipping back a minute or two takes care of that issue. The book is very long, I normally like that but for the reasons stated it was a chore to get all the way through, but I did and I did learn quite a bit even if I wasn't as entertained as I normally am when learning new material.

    One thing that was annoying was at the beginning of the book when the author feels that its necessary to lecture the listener about the evils of torture and how ineffective it is. I would like to note to the author that the biggest torturers in the book, the FLN, won. That doesn't mean I promote the usage of it, but It was a very annoying, anti-logical point to hear. To be fair this isn't an anti-US book so while you might be annoyed for a couple of minutes here or there it doesn't ruin the book, it's just kind of annoying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 14 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Dave
    stevenage, United Kingdom
    3/26/12
    Overall
    "Just superb"

    This is a wonderfully told story of an often horrific series of events which chronicle one of the more tragic chapters in the history of the decline and fall of colonialism. It is far more than just a telling of events - it takes great pains to examine the motivations and thinking of both sides, and explains how some of France's apparently most loyal subjects could contemplate revolt and the murder of their leader. With hindsight it all seems like tragically pointless violence, but this book puts those events on context, and clearly benefits from considerable correspondence and interviews with many of the major participants.

    A good book is easily spoiled by a poor reader, but this one is top notch. Always clear, and never sounds like he is tiring of what he is reading. The reviewer that said 5% of the text was in French is talking nonsense. Yes there are a few phrases which are untranslated, and that is indeed a pity for those of us with only a long-forgotten school-boy French to rely on, but it does not materially impair a thoroughly enjoyable book that illuminates one of the more terrible episodes in the recent history of Europe's retreat from empire, and explains events that deserve to be better known in the English-speaking world.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    11/10/11
    Overall
    "A fine and interesting book"

    I read this book when it was first published many years ago, and was looking forward to the updated edition. Alistair Horne tells the story of Algeria's war of independence in an absorbing and interesting way. There's plenty of detail, but he doesn't let it get in the way of the narrative and his judgements seem to the point and well balanced, particularly when he is drawing comparisions with the present day. Hindsight is wonderful, but you do wonder how politicians dont seem to learn from history.

    I did find it quite hard to keep a grip of the huge cast of characters, not made easy by the foreign names, but that's me not the book's fault! But you might want to keep a map of Algeria handy if you're not familiar with the geography. Understanding and keeping track is greatly helped by a wonderfully well paced and clear narration, One of the best I've heard.

    Quite a long book but well worth a listen if you are interested in modern history from off the beaten track.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • niall devine
    4/17/11
    Overall
    "parlez vous francais ??"

    Well researched,well read,and balanced coverage of the war.Sadly 5% of the language(comments, statements etc)is in untranslaed French as it is assumed you are a fluent French speaker which is very very irritating

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Nigel
    Andover, United Kingdom
    12/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Essential military history."

    This book is a classic. It has stood the test of time and justifiably so. It is a sweeping panorama of the savage war in Algeria. This book will give you an understanding of nationalism and the roots of Islamism in North Africa; the wars of national liberation in mid-20th century; the French Army and - by extension - France herself. The psychology of 'les Paras', invested through blood and suffering, in Algérie française to the enigma of De Gaulle. It is all here. Most telling is the analysis of the corrosive effect of torture on the French Army which inflicted it. The prefaces and introductions are updated and bring this lesson home to more recent experience in Iraq. James Adams has read this book well. This book is essential listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Derrick
    Port Solent, Hampshire, United Kingdom
    8/4/09
    Overall
    "Great history by a great historian"

    Alistair Horne has a great track record of superb military histories. I came to this with a curiosity about such a long war, but one little understood in the UK and poorly served in English. This is an early Horne book and shows him at the height of his powers. This is a long book at 30 hours, and I have to confess to flagging sometimes, but the sheer weight of the scholarship and narrative keeps you going. It was a also a tremendous revelation for someone who was a few years from the world before this war ended, as to just how close to civil war France came. The Day of the Jackal is not so far fetched as one reads of the most salient of De Gaulle's 15 or so assassination attemnpts.

    A fine book, populated by powerful characters, with De Gaulle standing taller than he did as a World War II figure, and with a clear case as the greatest Frenchman ever- and yes, I have read Horne's much later book on Napoleon!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    10/7/12
    Overall
    "An outstanding book"

    I was amazed to discover how little I knew about this important piece of 20th century history and found this book gripping throughout. It covers all the main events and characters in suficient detail with just the right amount of analysis. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Casnewydd, United Kingdom
    5/26/11
    Overall
    "Great analysis"

    A wonderful book with analysis that stands the test of the 30+ years since it has been written. It may have a few too many details for the casual listener. The narrator is good but he can't really pronounce French or Arabic which is a major handicap in a book on French North Africa

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    saffron walden, essex, United Kingdom
    3/16/11
    Overall
    "A savage war of peace"

    Quite the best history I've listened to, and certainly one of the best that I have experienced. My aim of introducing myself to both Algerian history and that of mid-century France has been achieved, while also introducing me to aspects of European and African history of which I was not aware. So horribly apt in these troubled times I hope that current world leaders and future soldiers, diplomats and politicians have this history on their i-pods. Thoroughly engrossing stuff!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-8 of 8 results

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