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A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 10, 2006
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"First the Pentagon plugged the movie, now President Bush is reading the book...A Savage War of Peace, British historian Alistair Horne's celebrated 1977 account of the [Algerian] war...Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who recommended A Savage War of Peace to Bush, said recently on PBS' Charlie Rose Show that he did not believe 'that the French experience could be applied precisely to the United States. But I thought there were enough similarities and enough complexities and enough tragedy for the president to gain a perspective on his own period.'" —Associated Press
"Anyone interested in Iraq should read this book immediately." —Thomas Ricks, The Washington Post
“[Horne’s] tome is so well written it reads more like a novel but is, in fact, a work of superior historical narrative…There are few historical works that provide so comprehensive a treatment of revolutionary and counterinsurgency warfare, domestic and international politics, and economics and ideology.” –Marine Corps Gazette
“When Horne’s book first appeared, it seemed to be an account of one major, but now largely closed, chapter in the history of postwar decolonization. Subsequent developments–in Algeria and elsewhere–have made the past prologue. [It] has become a de facto textbook for American Military officers facing time in Iraq...” —Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed
“This thirty-year-old history, written before the Iranian revolution, the Algerian civil war, and Al Qaeda, captures a contingent moment in the conflict between the West and the Arab world, when present-day dogmas were hardly imagined by most. It provides a much needed reminder that modern history is not made by the ‘clash of civilizations’ but by people.” —Harper’s Magazine
"The present conflict in the Middle East is frighteningly similar, making this book a good volume to have on library shelves. Horne provides a new preface."—Library Journal (Classic Returns)
"[T]he read of choice for many U.S. military officers serving in Iraq...[this] universally acclaimed history...should have been mandatory reading for the civilian and military leaders who opted to invade Iraq" —The Washington Times
“There is enough to make this the most complete history of the Algerian war yet written, one which will be indispensable for future historians. It is compelling reading, filled with intimate detail about characters and situations that have served as inspiration for a dozen novels from The Day of the Jackal on.” –The Los Angeles Times
A “highly readable, toughly edited history that blends the pace and sweep of a work of fiction with a relentless pursuit of every main actor still alive and willing to talk about the war.”–The Washington Post Book World
“Alistair Horne is one of the best writers of history in the English speaking world. A Savage War of Peace shows him at the peak of his powers."–The Financial Times
“An awesome and superlative piece of historical narrative…Mr. Horne has a terrible and tremendous tale to tell, one full of omen for posterity.”–The Times (London)
“An accomplished historian of earlier French wars has written an admirably impartial, lucid and readable book…as full and objective a history of the Algerian war as we are likely to see for some years.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A book of compelling power…magnificent. It has the poetic sense of place without which no great work of history can be written.”–The Spectator
“…brilliantly and compassionately told by an historian whose mastery of this subject is complete.”
–The Washington Post
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
As the US-led coalition in Iraq struggles to impose order, comparisons with France's ultimately unsuccessful attempt at holding on to Algeria in the face of Islamic insurgents have become fashionable. Such analogies, however, should be used cautiously. There are a number of salient differences in the two cases. None looms larger than the relatively large and vocal pied noir community in Algeria that Paris had to contend with, first politically and then militarily. In some Algerian cities in the 1950s, such as Constantine, a majority of the residents were of European extraction (although not necessarily French). These pied noirs had roots in Algeria for generations and had a powerful lobby in Paris. A simple political withdrawal from Algeria in 1955 was thus (in my opinion) a political impossibility. The ugly war that erupted was, in the end, tragically unavoidable.
Horne would certainly disagree with this assessment. Myopic intransigence by the French and pied noir leaders is a leitmotif of the narrative. Yet, the author just as consistently praises the FLN leadership for laying out their aims at the 1956 Soumman Conferences and never wavering from them. Algerian inflexibility, it seems, was a virtue; for the French/pied noir community it was a sin.Read more ›
More than a million people died in the Algerian war, yet it is poorly remembered today. Books like this are needed.
They preened themselves on their honour and spoke volubly about "restoring the glory of France", but when the going got difficult, they mostly resigned their positions or simply abandoned their responsibilities - often to return later to repeat the whole disreputable process - or intrigue among themselves.
Perhaps a psychologist could shed more light on this cesspit of misplaced values than an historian.
But what of the other side - the Algerian independence movement? The alphabet soup of factions (FLN, CRUA, MTLD, UDMA etc etc) was liberally peopled by thugs, assassins, torturers and thieves. They squabbled among themselves, intrigued for office, occasionally betrayed each other, and terrorised their own people - all in the cause of Algerian independence.
Even after independence, members of the ruling clique continued to wage war upon each other and upon the Algerian people. The struggle continues to this day.
Ordinary Algerians on both sides were the victims of the war - as is ever the case. At its end, within months, almost all the "pied noir" population had fled the country in one of the great mass migrations of the post war era. Muslims who had worked and fought for the French and who were unable (or chose not) to flee were mercilessly hunted down.
I finished the book with a sense of disgust, of having been soiled by the mostly contemptible people shaping events on both sides.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alistair Horne's brilliant history of the Algerian War is one of the best books of its kind ever written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ranger
It is not on General Mattis' reading list for nothing! This is a solid account of "guerre d'algerie" from all angles and sides. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Allistair Horne has taken no pains in his classic study of the French conflict in Algeria from 1954-62. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael Griswold
ISIS and AL-Qaeda have clearly studied this book, and it can be useful if we in the West do so, too. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Aramis Thomas
An exhaustingly researched and detailed history of a dreadful period in the history of France, Algeria, civilization, Islamic radicalism, and virtually every other controversy now... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mallow
A book from a good historian writer. Sometimes has the British tendency to pick on the French while forgetting that the Brits were just as bad, or sometimes worse, colonists. Read morePublished 9 months ago by john R.
A Savage War of Peace is Horne's third volume in his history of French Army in the 20th century. I think it is the best of the 3. Read morePublished 10 months ago by John Buford
I wanted to understand the whole France- Algeria history, since it still rankles today. This was a masterpiece of historical authorship, in my opinion, of this very complex story... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Shrike