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A Savage War of Peace Paperback – 11 Oct 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Paperback, 11 Oct 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; 3rd Revised edition edition (11 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330490370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330490375
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 4.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,934,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Alistair Horne is the author of many acclaimed books, including 'The Price of Glory', 'Small Earthquake in Chile' and 'How Far From Austerlitz?: Napoleon, 1805-1815', as well as the authorised two-volume biography of Harold Macmillan. Macmillan are also publishing his history of Paris, The Seven Ages Of Paris in hardback in September 2002.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I ordered this book as a result of a recommendation by the journalist Robert Fiske. I worked in Algeria in 1975 and the country has been under my skin ever since. This book is a fantastic distillation of the recent history of Algeria, I wish I had read it along time ago. What lessons can be learnt for the modern world and the threats that exist, and perhaps even more relevant in the post Sept 11th world. It was a gripping read, encapsulating the drama completely as it unfolded. An intellectual challenge, sumptous writing. A profound and shocking learning experience.
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Format: Paperback
I am somewhat of a fan of Alastair Horne's, having come to him via his trilogy of books on Franco-German conflicts, and I went looking in Amazon to see if there was anything new from him. And I came across this book, whose purchase many years ago was prompted by the desire to know more about the world of Freddie Forsyth's outstanding thriller "The day of the Jackal". Seeing it again on the Amazon website reminded me as to how relevant it is to the modern story of the US and Iraq. Of course, there are substantial differences; the US is not Iraq's colonial power and the US most certainly does not regard the place as part of the USA, the way the French did Algeria. And because of the lack of a US equivalent of "pieds noirs" (French settlers in Algeria), no matter how bad George Bush messes up, no US paratroop regiment is going to mutiny, try to assassinate him and bring the US to the brink of civil war.

However, the similarities are scary - the reliance on pure military power to win, the use of tactics (particularly in the battle of Algiers) that alienated the locals and effectively made them into allies of the FLN rebels or at least tolerant of them, and the widespread use of torture (a subject that touches raw nerves in France to this day). As with Iraq, the FLN didn't confront the French military head-on, but relied on ambush and, more particularly, on intimidating and murdering local allies of the French, policemen, local officials and the like. There were also French near-equivalents of "Mission Accomplished", even as the war was being lost where it desperately needed to be won - in the hearts and minds of Algerians themselves.

As I write this, Zinédine Zidane is in Algeria, being feted as a hero.
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By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
Alistair Horne is one of the preeminent historians of the 20th Century. I've read several of his books, including the entire trilogy on the three Franco - German wars. I've found each of his books excellent, but this one will always rate as his best - for the complexity of the material that he has mastered. In the preface is an impressive list of the principal actors interviewed. He acknowledged that it is virtually impossible to have seen the "entire picture," and suggests that no one will. He combines the specific information on the war with an overall splendid erudition. He tells the drama lucidly, with irony where appropriate, as it is so often. I first read this book over 30 years ago, and was even more impressed the second time around.

He draws you in immediately with the ironic title to his first chapter; a quote from former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, that Setif was "A Town of No Great Interest." It was in this non-descript town that the native Muslim Algerians revolted against the French at the end of the WW II, and were in turn brutally massacred. And it was near Setif that two young French teachers, "dedicated liberals", bookish and bespectacled, were murdered on All Saint's Day, 1954, in the commencement of Algeria's war of liberation.

Horne uses a wild range of sources for incisive epigraphs at the commencement of each chapter, and perhaps none is better than the one from Jonathan Swift: "In war opinion is nine parts in ten." That opinion was spun and spun again as events repeatedly outraced the expectations of the actors.

France first went to Algeria in 1830, colonizing it under the rubric of a "civilizing mission," (a forerunner of bringing the natives democracy).
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By A Customer on 11 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
At the outset Alistair Horne bemoans the complexities and difficulties involved in writing recent history, where many of the main players are still alive and active. Ironically, it is he who falls into that trap - for the only faults to this otherwise excellent rendition are occaisonal of-the-cuff cryptic references by the author to some event that happened at the time and which he experienced. He obviously assumes that others share his memory. But these are few and tiny details. Over all this is an excellent text.
Horne admirably makes up for the lack of documentation on the Algerian side of the war and manages, somehow, despite that massive inbalance in printed references between France and Algeria, to present a text which presents both sides with scholarly depth.
It is sobering to think that in an established western democarcy like France, attempted military coups only happened a generation ago. On these pages can be found the ultimate bloody epitaph of colonialism.
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