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Journal, 1955-1962: Reflections on the French-Algerian War Paperback – June 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080326903X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803269033
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Feraoun never fit into a neat category in colonial Algeria. He was a Muslim who counted French intellectuals among his closest friends, including Albert Camus. Although an Algerian nationalist, he was a Berber who neither spoke nor wrote Arabic. As a result, his journal brings a unique perspective to what was perhaps the most brutal of the anticolonial wars. This is not a chronicle of the war itself; rather, it is an intensely personal memoir detailing how the savage conflict affected the daily lives of people on both sides of the divide. Feraoun is clearly sympathetic to the rebel cause, but he is no mere shill for their side. He passionately examines the human condition with all its flaws and nobility, yet he occasionally describes events with an eerie detachment. Since he was assassinated by a French terrorist group just three days before the cease-fire that ended the war, his account is especially poignant. An emotionally draining and important work. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

After years of anticolonial and post colonial theory, Feraoun's journal is truly refreshing to read. -- The New Republic, November 6, 2000

Feraoun's Journal reads like a message in a bottle.... [It is] such a timely and timeless historical, political, literary, and human document. -- The Village Voice, January 10-16, 2001

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Connelly on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
There are a few important works on the Algerian Civil War available for the English reader. Franz Fannon, Alistair Horne's history, the film "Battle of Algiers, and recently Feraoun's diary are the ones that readily come to mind. Feraoun was a western educated Algerian and well accquainted with the French. His desire for an independent Algeria was strong, but tempered by a strong sense of historical reality. He reveals the day to day impact of the violence. It is in this respect that the work is most moving, and reveals the senselessness and degradation that occurs to all people involved, Feraoun eventually a victim himself. An essential view of the psychological costs of guerrilla and anti-colonial war.
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Format: Paperback
That sentence from Mouloud Feraoun's JOURNAL, 1955-1962 summarizes the Algerian War of Independence as he experienced it. JOURNAL is one of the major, if lesser-known, eyewitness accounts of the political atrocities that marked the twentieth century. It belongs in the same group of books as Primo Levi's "If This Is a Man" and Eugenia Ginzburg's "Journey into the Whirlwind". Hitler's Holocaust and Stalin's Gulag are much better known, but for many Muslim Algerians caught up in the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), life was almost as hellish.

Feraoun lived through that maelstrom as a Muslim Berber from Kabylia. In November 1955 he began writing a journal from the maw of the War of Independence. He was one of the most respected writers in colonial Algeria and a friend of such noted figures as Emmanuel Robles and Albert Camus. He also was a schoolteacher, living in Fort-National, in the middle of Kabylia. In July 1957, due to the death and mayhem that had overwhelmed the Kabylie, Feraoun and his family moved to a suburb of Algiers. (That was during the Battle of Algiers, but still Algiers was safer, less violent, than was Kabylia.) Feraoun continued to live in the vicinity of Algiers until March 15, 1962, when he was assassinated by the fascist OAS just days before the cease-fire ending the French-Algerian war.

Reading JOURNAL, 1955-1962 is profoundly depressing. It contains a litany of barbarities; it is a testament of inhumanity. Time and again, it documents physical torture. Example: A friend tells Feraoun: "What got me talking more than anything else is the spring * * *. It is a tool that is introduced into the anus and that increases in size when they push on the spring. Then they pull it out brutally, and you feel your entrails tear.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
First, I will comment on the book itself from an American point of view. The book is not easy to read because it is not a book: it is the author's journal he kept during the French Algerian War. Knowing that still, his journal entries, which at the beginning were frequent and detailed, were focused on keeping track of who was killed, tortured or who was doing the killings. It was as if the author, Mr. F.(his notation of using people's initials to hide their identity from I suppose the French secret police), was keeping a testimony of the murders occurring all around him as evidence. This makes for dull reading; however, given the events of 9-11, I made a valiant effort to immerse myself into the author's mind and try to understand this incredibly brutal civil war.
(...)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By IMAZIGHEN on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Kabylians are lions and they freed Algeria from the French. The Arabes where hiding and never fought. in 62 they STOLE the power and destroyed Algeria with their STUPID culture that denies the Kabylians the right to speak the Kabyle Language. We should Help the GPK that protect the Kabylian people from the Arabs.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jack Cade on February 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book five stars--I should point out that even in English it is difficult--perhaps the translators intention. For example often it is difficult to find the antecedent to a particular pronoun.
I read this book first because it is one of the few I could find in English written by an Algerian (Feraoun was Kabyle and spoke no Arabic ironically) second because it is nuanced and though pro-FLN is not propaganda. I should state that after what my father told me he had witnessed at Setif in 1945 I am perfectly content with the most extreme condemnation of the French whose conduct makes any sanctimonious condemnation of "the brutality of Islam" a farce. (I should add the US follows the French --even to the point of having former French torturers train US army soldiers--this is verifiable ((see latest editition of The Question--by Alleg for verification)). Nevertheless I felt that the views of a "moderate"--and at the time one of Algeria's greatest writers should be respected--and indeed they complicate the whole problematic of the war--though not for me. I do not like propaganda and am not oblivious to the savagery of the war on both sides. But now more knowledable say about FLN's "brutality" my support for them has not wavered only grown. Anti-Colonial fighting is not a sentimental business and the FLN did things it should not have in my opinion. Having said that however it is well to remember that NONE of this would have happened had the French not decided to invade Algeria in 1830--had they not locked up whole communities in caves during the 19th century --and let them starve to death.
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