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Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944-1947 Second Printing Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691133768
ISBN-10: 069113376X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Finalist for the 2007 - 20th Translation Prize, French American Foundation & the Florence Gould Foundation

"As Camus at 'Combat', a new collection of his editorials . . . makes plain, the experience, first, of the Nazi occupation of France, and then of the struggle of Algerian independence against France led him to conclude that the 'primitive' impulse to kill and torture shared a taproot with the habit of abstraction, of thinking of other people as a class of entities."--Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

"France's preeminent Camus scholar before passing away in 2004, here presents 165 of the articles Camus wrote . . . for the clandestine French Resistance newspaper Combat. The later articles are less enthusiastic than the earlier ones, reflecting Camus's gradual belief that there were three failures of French democracy after the war: France's inability to deal with war crimes and criminals; its failure to bring democracy to its colonial possessions, Indochina and Algeria; and the incapacity of the French press to remain free of outside influences."--Bob Ivey, Library Journal

"The value of this comprehensive (and exhaustively footnoted) volume is to exhibit the quotidian political thought of a great humanist as he turned his attention from the triumph of the Resistance to the much messier task of building a new France out of the war's detritus."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Albert Camus called the 20th century 'the century of fear', but he may as well have been writing about the 21st. Although written more than 50 years ago, his editorials for the Resistance newspaper Combat in the postwar period are uncannily resonant today."--Fiona Capp, The Age

"A stirring, if occasionally arcane, book that puts Camus back into his historical context. Here is Camus frothing at the mouth about collaborators and beating the drum loudly for his countrymen to get involved in creating a new democracy."--John Freeman, Denver Post

"[E]xpertly edited by Jacqueline Levi-Valensi. In her hands his work becomes an affecting account of France in the years of crisis, and at the same time the portrait of a brilliant and principled man dealing with slippery, intractable reality."--Robert Fulford, National Post

"This remarkable book presents for the first time in English all of Camus's Combat writings. . . . This is political journalism at its best. As editorialist and editor in chief of Combat, Camus urged his readers to purge themselves of dogmatism, pursue justice rather than vengeance, denounce ideologies, and insist on freedom of the press. Responding to daily events 60 years ago, these pieces still resonate powerfully today in an era of global conflict."--Choice

"The first complete English-language translation of Camus's wartime journalism, this important book offers both a moving portrayal of life under the Occupation and a fascinating glimpse at the evolution of the author's thinking."--France

"These beautifully translated articles . . . are as worth reading in 2006 as they were in 1946. Camus never wavered on a demand that many other philosophers and writers of his time deemed naïve: for morality in politics, born out of a conviction that political choices are ethical in essence."--Stanley Hoffman, Foreign Affairs

"It is astonishing to see how many of the issues on which Camus comments, and which were broached by the situation in which he was writing, anticipate and prefigure problems that continue to afflict us today. In his commentaries, Camus never stays on the surface of the events that provide his starting point; he is always searching for the deeper causes--moral, social, psychological, or ultimately religious (though he was not a believer of any kind)--that motivate human behavior. For this reason, many of these occasional writings still live."--Joseph Frank, The New Republic

"Anyone interested in Camus' development as a writer should also be eager to read [these articles. ]. . . [O]f the myriad volumes on contemporary politics that appear in bookstores festooned with 'must-read' blurbs, none is more important than this collection of sixty-year-old editorials. . . . [T]here is a coherence as well as an expansiveness to his writing that transcends the normal limitations of the editorial form."--Michael McDonald, American Interest

From the Back Cover

Praise for the French edition: "A wonderful book. In 1944 Camus had already published The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus. But it was his daily editorials in the resistance newspaper Combat that made him famous, and he emerged from the war as a moral and intellectual leader of postwar France."--Alice Kaplan, Duke University, author of The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Second Printing edition (September 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069113376X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691133768
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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If you are unfamiliar with the global struggle against Nazism, and the French idealogical struggle against this same threat, this may not be the book for you. However, I highly doubt that this is the first title one comes across as one encountering Camus for the first time. So, if you are one of those, perhaps you may like to look at something that is more of one one the great "Nobel Prize-Wining" author's novels first. They are entirely engaging and easy to read, but an intellectual challenge.
Intellectual grandstanding aside, I found this book wonderful. It gives perspective into the mind of one of the greatest Journalists / Novelist of the twentieth century. I have enjoyed his essays and novels in the past, but as a former working journalists, the thing that amazed me the most was his ability to see into the future based off of world events. Camus's insights are as revelant today as 60 years ago when he was writing in Combat. In this book, the young man's insight's and intellectual development are laid out in a neatly ordered fashion.
A caveat, this is a hard book to "get into". While there is a grand historical narrative, there is little continuity between the passages, making this, at least for me, a lengthy read. However lengthy it was, it was worth it. Camus's insights and his highly quotable and pity quotes are massively enjoyable. My significant other would account the times I had to read her a line. As a teacher, I had to have much restraint to not plaster my room with his quotes. The entry reflecting the first explosion of the atomic bomb is worth the price of admission alone.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"To wager everything on the belief that in the end words will prove stronger than bullets" is the only honorable choice left to Camus after the European cataclysm. Writing as combat, words as weapons, ideas as strategy, politics as tactics, ignite these essays ranging from his time in the Resistance to his postwar views on transforming European society after the old social contract lay shattered by WW1/WW2. R. M. Peterson's point is taken: it's a chore to read cover to cover. But to dip into it over time remains rewarding. And you have to admit that cigarette is really, really cool.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of editorials which Albert Camus wrote for the French (clandestine till 1944) newspaper ‘Combat’ illustrates clearly his outspoken vision on mankind, politics, the organization of the State and the international community, the economy, the media and art.

Albert Camus wanted a Revolution
For Albert Camus the only true task of a man born in an absurd world is to be aware that he has a life to live, a life of freedom and revolt. The purpose of this revolt should not be power, but justice, not politics, but morality, not domination, but greatness.
Revolt means fighting for a true ‘Revolution’, for a constitution where freedom and justice for everybody are totally guaranteed, for a ruthless destruction of all big trusts and the powers of money and for a foreign policy based on honor and loyalty.

His socialism: freedom and justice
For Albert Camus, every man should always have his fate in his own hands. He does not believe in absolute or infallible doctrines, but only in the stubborn improvement of the human condition. He wants to build a State where every individual has the same chances at the start of his life, and where the majority in a country is not exploited by a privileged minority. For him, freedom necessarily implies a political climate in which every human being is respected physically and mentally (free speech).

Economics and the international order
Albert Camus was a partisan of the combination of a collectivist economy with liberal politics. Without a collectivist economy in which a government can transfer the industrial proceeds from the privileged to the working class, political freedom is a deception.
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Albert Camus was a multi-faceted writer: novelist, playwright, essayist, and (for a time) journalist -- the aspect of his literary talents least known in the United States. Before the publication of "The Stranger", Camus had made a name for himself as a left-wing journalist in his native Algeria. In 1943, re-located to occupied Paris, Camus began writing for the underground Resistance newspaper "Combat" and for some time served as its editor-in-chief. From 1944 to 1946, "Combat" and Camus were among the most influential voices on political affairs in France.

CAMUS AT COMBAT collects all of Camus's journalism (mostly editorials) published in "Combat" between March 1944 and June 1947 - about 170 pieces in all. It is the first such collection published in English translation. It is an admirable volume in many ways. It is handsomely put together, with instructive and useful but not overly copious footnotes. There is an excellent 20-page foreword by David Carroll.

Among the themes addressed by Camus in various pieces were the "just" treatment of Vichy officials and Nazi collaborators, freedom of the press and democracy in post-War France, and Algeria and colonialism. Not surprisingly, the work is uneven. Too often it is cliched, emotional, or grandiloquent. But virtually every piece contains further evidence of Camus as a morally concerned intellectual, an independent and original thinker. And virtually every piece contains something of interest or value, even at this remove.

Nevertheless, I am less than enthusiastic about CAMUS AT COMBAT because, at least for me, it was impossible to read from cover to cover. That surely is a problem with any comprehensive collection of editorials.
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