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The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Algeria 1955-1957 58981st Edition
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Although one may not want to accept this methodology, many influential members in French military and political circles accepted this as the price to pay to keep Algeria French. Because these senior leaders were able to get men like Paul Aussaresses to do their dirty work for them does not make their hands any cleaner. Aussaresses obviously could not have done what he did for so long without the approval of his chain of command.
I commend the author for having the moral courage to admit his own actions when everyone else involved has taken the different approach of sweeping it under the rug. Admitting to crimes against humanity is nothing to be proud of, but Aussaresses was certainly the implementer of French political will just as Adolf Eichmann was for Germany.
This is an important work for understanding to what extent nations will go to, to secure their empires. It is also important for understanding counterinsurgency and the limits of violence. Whatever your political/moral take on the author, this is an interesting, unique book and well worth the time spent reading it.
It puzzles me that so many reviewers refer to Aussaresses as cold-blooded and unfeeling. The book owes its many stylistic faults to the passion and obvious defensiveness of a very emotional man. This gives the brutal story moments of unintentional humour, as in the bizarre anecdote of the Franco-Algerian farmer, his head "split in half" by a radicalized Moslem, who goes home to bed to die, first relating his experience to the local police chief!!!
The claim has been made that Aussaresses' methods had a major political impact on the war's outcome, but I doubt it. As in America's war in Vietnam, France's war was chiefly fought by draftees in the countryside, and it was the growing bodycount amoung the children of native Frenchmen, fighting for the privileges of a colonial population that was not ethnically French, that lost the war politically. Likewise the issue for the local native population was the cruel reality both of second-class citizenship and of FLN terrorism, as anyone whose political stance was not in accord with theirs was murdered, often with unspeakable brutality.Read more ›
In short, this is a good solider's account of the war. As valuable as this perspective is (and it is very valuable), it is narrow and demands some responses. First, the book fails to provide a context for the war (For context, I recommend reading Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace"). Aussaressess begins with the massacre at Phillipeville but there were atrocities on all sides. This war was an [mass] of violence and hatred. Second, there is a number of moral responses I have to Aussaressess's statements in the book. The one I find most appalling is that Aussaressess believes that he and his intelligence officers were restoring "law and order". I guess as an attorney I find this claim most alarming. I might be more accurate to say that Aussaressess was restoring a kind of order but it was hardly lawful. Suspects were picked up in nightly raids, tortured and summarily executed if they were believed to be terrorists. In most thinkers idea of law, there is the concept of equity: fairness and accountability.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author would be a war criminal today, and to be honest, should have been even in the 50's. He is the argument for torture as a means of facilitating the counter-terrorism... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Tweeter00801
An excellent book written by one of the slowly diminishing numbers of participants in this campaign. Read morePublished on May 12, 2014 by Gunnar Carlson
A short history narrative on the French in Algeria. Interesting but lacking in detail. If a person is seeking greater depth I would not recommend this bookPublished on January 5, 2014 by P. Olson
This book is a unique war memoir in that it describes the actions of the intelligence arm of the French Military. Read morePublished on December 12, 2013 by Carl Robinson
The recent death of General Paul Aussaresses (3 December 2013) reminds us what an indispensable, even brilliant, book he wrote. Read morePublished on December 5, 2013 by Philip Terzian
A very controversial but important account of the means used by the French Foreign Legion to successfully defeat terrorist insurgents during the Algerian War.Published on July 26, 2013 by Gary A Wright
Many reviews seem to side with Aussaresses that his draconian tactics, including torture, were a necessary and vital tool to defeating the Algerian rebels. Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by D. Croft
FINAL OPTION - Torture & Execution
General Paul Aussaresses' memoir "The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and
Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957" details the... Read more