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The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and its Arabs Hardcover – 6 Mar 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (6 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847081479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847081476
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'I'm looking forward to The French Intifada. With the troubled banlieues as his starting point, Hussey visits the frontlines of a guerrilla struggle that has been going on since 1800, from the Gare du Nord to the souks of Marrakech, to the mosques of Tangier.' --'2014 non-fiction preview', Rachel Cooke, Observer

'Hussey's as much at home with hip-hop and gruesome Islamist videos as he is talking to buttoned-up French prison officials. I admire Andrew Hussey's book because he has had the courage to go where I didn't' --Nick Fraser, Observer

'Hussey is an engaging guide writing with authority and humour about everything from Zinedine Zidane to architecture. He manages to make what at times is a terrible tale into a fascinating and enjoyable read' --Irish Examiner

'The French Intifada mixes lively street reportage with the history of two brutal centuries in France's former Maghreb territories. This is strong stuff' --New Statesman

'Disturbing and provocative' --Daily Telegraph

'Urgent and brilliant… Superb writing on the complexities of race, religion and immigration that situates this in the legacies of Empire and colonialism' --Huffington Post

'Hussey's narrative strategy is to combine the job of a historian with that of a reporter, and he evinces gusto for being on the ground. His writing is lively and well paced' --Times Literary Supplement

'Disturbing and provocative' --Daily Telegraph

'Indispensable' --'Book of the Year' chosen by Patrick Marnham, Spectator

'A fascinating book'
Charles Moore in the Spectator --Spectator

About the Author

ANDREW HUSSEY is Dean of the University of London Institute in Paris, a regular contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman, and the writer/ presenter of several BBC documentaries on French food and art. He is the author of The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord (2001), and Paris: The Secret History (2006). He was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Years Honours list for services to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and France.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my first experiences of living in Paris was taking the stopping train from the centre of the city back out to CDG airport for a flight home to London. The carriage was crowded, standing room only, meaning it held maybe sixty or eighty or one hundred people. I was the only white person. Notwithstanding, the courtesy I was afforded, when to my surprise a young man was told to stand up and offer me his seat, I was left with the shocking sense of the racial separation that characterises France’s capital city. I learned later that a faster, non-stop train goes straight to CDG airport. You will hardly find a black person on it.
Andrew Hussey’s book begins with a chilling description of the realities of life of the black and Arab-origin populations in the banlieues north of Paris through which my stopping train travelled, cross-referenced to the comparable realities of the outskirts of Lyon and Marseille. The strength of his writing is not just that he gives a sense of how and why the young men of these districts have come into the centre of these cities to burn cars and riot, and sometimes to kill, but he makes you wonder why there isn’t more of it.
It would be easy but wrong to dismiss the challenges in France as comparable to the ones we face in England. Hussey shows how French republican fervour, the determined belief that everyone is not only free but equal – the same - means that the colour of someone’s skin is considered irrelevant. Under republican orthodoxy, the separation of whites in the centre of the city and blacks around the outside is not a legitimate concern.
The French experience of colonialism was very different from ours, especially where its relations with its North African neighbours were concerned.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very good book. Hussey delivers what can only be described as an appraisal of France's secret civil war with it's own Muslim Arab immigrant population. I realise how unlikely that scenario sounds, but the author's evidence is very compelling as well as significantly unnerving too. There are some serious divisions within French society that show no signs of going away and the author explains why this is the case by analysing in-depth present day French politics. Hussey also goes on to explain how French colonial history in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have also contributed to this tense state of affairs.

Hussey knows his subject well and this clearly shows in his writing as he identifies the current situation in France today; Predominantly white, well maintained, metropolitan cities bordered by run down and poorly funded suburbs (the 'banlieues') housing significant numbers of Arab and North African Muslim migrants. As highlighted, these Migrants are unhappy, very unhappy indeed, at what they see as their marginalisation by mainstream French society. However, they are a people consumed by a deep hatred for their former colonial master. They hate France and all she stands for. This anger has led to violent civil disruption and riots on a scale which, if they'd occurred in other European nations, would have led to serious political upheaval. But not in France. Such anger and thirst for revenge is apparently normal behaviour in there.

A large amount of this anger and hatred amongst the immigrant population stems from the French history in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Whilst none of the European power's empires can claim to be truly benevolent, French conduct in all three nations has left a lot to be desired, particularly in Algeria.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a fine analysis of the relation between France and its erstwhile colonies , and reveals a callous attitude to that
indigenous population The impression is that France has become two states, with no dialogue between them
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Format: Paperback
It seems that most, if not all, of the terrorists that attacked Paris on 13 November 2015 were French. Only they did not feel French. Their allegiances were elsewhere. But what motivated them? This is one of the books that I have read to find out an answer.
What I found was a bleak account where the division between France and its Arab populations seems utterly stark and unbridgeable. It starts with a riot the author witnesses at the Gare de Nord in 2007. The account turns to recent incidents, the torture and murder of a young Jewish salesman in 2006, the murders at a Jewish school in 2012 and then a chronicle of colonial history in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. A concluding chapter deals with radicalisation in French prisons.

In some respects, a standard liberal explanation is offered – the struggle ‘between the colonisers and the colonised’ is the catch phrase of this book. He doesn’t however draw liberal conclusions. He thinks that the rage of the so-called dispossessed is implacable. It is not merely an equalities issue. ‘F*** France!’ is the refrain of the alienated and they mean f*** everything French, A to Z. What they want is not liberty, equality and fraternity but revenge. France, according to Hussey, does not need a hard-headed political solution but an exorcist.

Strong, bracing stuff. So why only three stars? Not on account of its writing – he writes fantastically well – but because there is too much reliance on psychological explanations. I don’t have a problem per se with that but there is no attempt to get data to scope the scale of the problem. This is partially because statistics are not kept.
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