A Savage War of PeaceAlgeria 1954–1962
With a new preface by the Author
The Algerian War lasted from 1954 to 1962. It caused the fall of six French governments, led to the collapse of the Fourth Republic, brought de Gaulle back to power, and came close to provoking a civil war on French soil. More than a million Muslim Algerians died in the conflict and as many European settlers were driven into exile. Above all, the war was marked by an unholy marriage of revolutionary terror and state torture.
The conflict made headlines around the world, and at the time it seemed like a French affair. From the perspective of half a century, however, this brutal and intractable conflict looks less like the last colonial war than the first postmodern one—a full-dress rehearsal for the sort of amorphous struggle that convulsed the Balkans in the 1990s and that now ravages the Middle East, from Beirut to Baghdad, struggles in which religion, nationalism, imperialism, and terrorism assume previously unimagined degrees of intensity.
Originally published in 1977, Alistair Horne's A Savage War of Peace was immediately proclaimed by experts of varied political sympathies to be the definitive history of the Algerian War, a book that not only does justice to its Byzantine intricacies, but that does so with intelligence, assurance, and unflagging momentum. It is not only essential reading for anyone who wishes to investigate this dark stretch of history, but a lasting monument of the historian's art.
Includes 40 photographs
The present conflict in the Middle East is frighteningly similar, making this book a good volume to have.
— Library Journal
[T]he read of choice for many U.S. military officers serving in Iraq...[this] universally acclaimed history...should have been mandatory reading for the civilian and military leaders who opted to invade Iraq.
— The Washington Times
[A Savage War of Peace] is compelling reading, filled with intimate detail about characters and situations that have served as inspiration for a dozen novels from The Day of the Jackal on.
— Los Angeles Times
An admirably impartial, lucid and readable book...as full and objective a history of the Algerian war as we are likely to see for some years.
— The New York Times Book Review
[A] highly readable, toughly edited history that blends the pace and sweep of a work of fiction with a relentless pursuit of every main actor still alive and willing to talk about the war.
— The Washington Post Book World
Alistair Horne is one of the best writers of history in the English speaking world. A Savage War of Peace shows him at the peak of his powers.
— The Financial Times
Anyone interested in Iraq should read this book immediately.
— Thomas Ricks, The Washington Post
[Horne's] tome is so well written it reads more like a novel but is, in fact, a work of superior historical narrative...There are few historical works that provide so comprehensive a treatment of revolutionary and counterinsurgency warfare, domestic and international politics, and economics and ideology.
— Marine Corps Gazette
When Horne's book first appeared, it seemed to be an account of one major, but now largely closed, chapter in the history of postwar decolonization. Subsequent developments—in Algeria and elsewhere—have made the past prologue. [It] has become a de facto textbook for American Military officers facing time in Iraq...
— Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed
This thirty-year-old history, written before the Iranian revolution, the Algerian civil war, and Al Qaeda, captures a contingent moment in the conflict between the West and the Arab world, when present-day dogmas were hardly imagined by most. It provides a much needed reminder that modern history is not made by the "clash of civilizations" but by people.
— Harper's Magazine