A SAVAGE WAR OF PEACE: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne
Kirkus Star

A SAVAGE WAR OF PEACE: Algeria 1954-1962

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A large, dense, dramatic account of the Algerian conflict by a British historian of European war and diverse insurgencies. Sketching the post-WW II period of stoicism among Algerian Arabs, ended by the 1954 All Saints' Day revolt, Home fills out the elements of the struggle with sophistication and empathy: the feudal landholders and petits pieds noirs farmers, educated Arabs and incipient mobs--and the fall of the liberal Mendès-France government in Paris, which hastened the ascendancy of the National Liberation Front (FLN) over Moslem moderates. The French para colonels came to ""bestride the Algerian scene like demigods."" And in 1957 the Battle of Algiers destroyed the FLN's urban networks. This forced the revolutionaries to sharpen their strategy, while France itself was verglng on civil war. Home brilliantly reconstructs the return to power of a de Gaulle willing to sacrifice l'AlgÉrie franÇaise to la France--as well as the General's inability to prevent the diehards' 1960-62 pro-colonial insurrections, terrorism, and final ""scorched earth"" deployments when full Algerian independence was finally negotiated. The bitter political residue, and Algeria's post-1962 economic gains, are described in a postlude. Home manages to create not only a sense of individual personalities but considerable suspense about events and about his. final judgments (the self-defeating effects of torture, the unmatched potency of de Gaulle). Even a less engrossing study would have been welcome, since William Qnandt's Revolution and Political Leadership (1969) is an academic treatment of the Algerian nationalist side, and no full-scale chronicle of the war exists in English. This will serve the same purpose, and serve it well.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1978
ISBN: 1590172183
Publisher: Viking