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on December 12, 2013
This book is a unique war memoir in that it describes the actions of the intelligence arm of the French Military. This tale tells how the French military destroyed the Moslem insurgency in the city of Algiers using torture, summary executions, and other dirty means.

It is written by a veteran of the conflict and it is matter-of-fact about the terrible nature of this ugly war.

While being somewhat disturbing, it implies that the rough methods of torture were effective. Since its publishing it seems that the techno-thriller genre has come to portray torture as a good idea-a bad development in this darkening world.

The book also shows the culture and life of War Era French Algeria.
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on August 7, 2009
The author was instrumental in waging France's campaign against terrorism in Algeria. This battle was the last gasp of the French Colonial Empire, following their withdrawal from French Indo China in 1954. In 1952 a group of Egyptian officers led by Col. Nasser overthrew King Farouk. Nasser's ambition was to encourage, support and fund Arab nationalism in the region. He provided weapons and funds to the Algerian FLN which had been founded in October 1954. The FLN attacks against civilians began within a week. The FLN objective was to get rid of the French settlers, French army and kill those Algerians who worked with the French whom they called collaborators. This war was probably the first where terrorist bombings were used on a large scale against the civilian population. Horrific atrocities were committed as well. In fact the French military defeated the FLN by mid 1957. But, like the U.S. experiences in Vietnam and Iraq, French public opinion influenced by the media opposed the war. And ultimately they withdrew in 1962. This book reads like a fast paced novel. The pages turn quickly. It is a valuable historical read.
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on April 5, 2009
What a great book! General Aussaresses lets all the skeletons out of the closet. Too often we talk about wars and the way they should be fought. Aussaresses tells you the way a guerilla war is REALLY fought. It is the people caught in the middle who suffer. What is really scary is that his logic does make some sense. Traditional justice systems are not designed to deal with large scale distrubances. They are designed to deal with crimes commited by individuals or small groups of individuals. In a sense, terrorists are equated with serial killers and the question the reader is left with is Can we afford to make a mistake and let them go free because they will kill innocents again. This book made me glad that I never have to make these types of decisions.
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on January 10, 2017
well written and insightful. i can recommend it for anyone wanting to understand more about the conflict there and it's ripples down through history.
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on May 12, 2014
An excellent book written by one of the slowly diminishing numbers of participants in this campaign. This book deals with the French war in Algeria, and the Battle of Algiers which was a part of that war. The book is interesting, has photographs, and is a good resource for those interested in that conflict and the atrocities that occurred on both sides..
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on May 15, 2012
FINAL OPTION - Torture & Execution

General Paul Aussaresses' memoir "The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and
Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957" details the brutal counter-terrorist campaign against Algerian insurgents during the Algerian War. His controversial, and some argue failed, methods include torture and summary execution. Overall this is a very interesting book for a look at the dirty side of counter-insurgency.
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on March 20, 2006
I believe many of those who wrote reviews of this book are writing from their hearts as opposed to cooly assessing this excellent work. Afterall, it is hard for one to embrace the author's premise that physical torture and summary executions were the only way to effectively deal with Algerian insurgents.

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.
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on May 3, 2015
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 cycle. There are immediate and short term results to this methodology, and could help smaller nations where terrorism is an existential threat to their regime.
However, the General seems to gloss over MANY issues with his argument. His actions, and actions of his unit, we're so horrendous the public opinion of the French people was lost, torture and murder was a major factor. The French people did not think the actions of the unit were morally just. They won the tactical battle but lost the war of support and the crumbling of French presence in Algeria began. Terrorism, by the FLN, was not an existential threat to France proper, only on Algeria as a constitutional state of the nation of France. It was not a colony like its neighbors. The French people did not view the actions of the FLN as an existential threat to them. The actions of this unit led to a direct shift in homeland French public opinion. Interesting is the contrast with the Pieds Noir, who rightly viewed the FLN as an existential threat to their lives and existence in Algeria, therefore were wholly supportive of these operations. Perspective is everything.
Another interesting perspective is on the fact so many of these Soldiers, and leaders, were survivors of the Nazi occupation, and all those horrors, then the vicious fighting in French Indo-China culminating in the surrender at Diem Bien Phu, followed by the prison camps of the Viet Mihn. Those same veterans turned around and behaved exactly in the same manner as their former enemies.

This is a great complimentary with "A Savage war of Peace"
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on January 5, 2014
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 book
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on December 1, 2006
Amazon actually recommended this to me from previous purchases and as I had no idea what happened in Algeria it was good reading easy to follow a good number of photo's showing some of the main players, a feel of the city. The book gives one soldiers story on his shadow war in two cities and how he came about ending the terrorism - it is brutal.
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