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.
"[This] universally acclaimed history...should have been mandatory reading for the civilian and military leaders who opted to invade Iraq." (Washington Times)
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.
Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg
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.
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.
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.
pros and cons
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
Only my thanks to Alistair Horne for writing such an enlightening book.
Army's attempt to overthrow the French Government.
Translate all statements into English. Having the characters speak apparently critical statements in French without an English translation is very, very annoying and made me think I missed some important part of the issue.
Yes, assuming that if it is an English movie all the characters would speak English.
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.
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.
"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.
"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!
"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.
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
"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
"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!
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