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4.0 out of 5 stars Cry the beloved country 1939 - 1958, 2 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Algerian Chronicles (Hardcover)
This is a collection of mostly journalistic writings by Camus about Algeria written between 1939 and 1958. Camus was part of the French settler community in Algeria, but he was not part of the privileged elite as he came from a working class background. He felt both French and Algerian. The settler community was both long established and numerous. The earlier articles are factual accounts of the hardships of the Algerian people. The later articles are his comments on the heartbreaking situation in his homeland, written from metropolitan France. This is the first time that many of these articles have been published in English and to an English speaking audience most of the context of these articles will be unfamiliar. Camus wrote about a country that he hoped could be French and Berber and Arab. He took a humane middle way but found himself continuously and despairingly thwarted by the steam-roller of historical events.

THE BOOK
The book begins with a note from the translator followed by an 18 page introduction by Alice Kaplan, a professor of French at Yale. The Algerian Chronicles proper begins with a 13 page preface by Camus, followed by 6 sections. The Misery of Kabylia (1939) is a set of newspaper articles on the famine in the Kabylia region of Algeria. Although edited for publication in Algerian Chronicles these are still very detailed, factual reportage. The original publication of these articles contributed to Camus's exile from Algeria. The Crisis in Algeria (1945) contains articles first published in the French Resistance newspaper Combat. Algerian Torn (1956) appeared in L'Express. The Maisonseul Affair (1956) first appeared in Le Monde. Algeria 1958 contains two short articles offering solutions to the Algerian crisis. The Appendix contains a selection of letters and lectures that do not appear in the French edition. It includes a note on the "Noble Prize Press Conference Incident" in 1957, with Camus's famous quote in response to an Algerian student: "People are now planting bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways. If that is justice, then I prefer my mother."

CONCLUSION
These articles are of their time and together do not provide a continuous story. Also, as the translator points out, they have lost some of the elegance of the original French in translation. However, they are rewarding to read, showing Camus as a journalist rather than as a novelist, giving insights into the recent histories of both France and Algeria and the original Arab Spring, but above all demonstrating the dilemmas faced by any minority living in a country undergoing massive sectarian upheaval.

FRENCH ALGERIA
In 1830 the French invaded Algiers and the major coastal towns. The conquest of all of the country was completed in 1848. There followed a policy of settling French nationals. The fall of France in 1940 encouraged nationalism in Algeria, which continued after the end of the war. This was strongly resisted by many of the French settlers. Armed rebellion increased, leading to Algerian independence in 1962.

LINKS
DVD The Battle Of Algiers (1965)
Camus Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1961) contains articles by Camus, some of which appear in Algerian Chronicles
Camus The Outsider, a novel
Camus Exile and the Kingdom, short stories
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