Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed
By Martin Evans and John Phillips
Yale University Press, 2007, 352 pp.
Algeria, seen in the years immediately following 1962 as "the darling of the non-aligned movement," was soon revealed to be an authoritarian state dominated by the military and unable to institutionalize support from the people. The 1980s witnessed the rise of a radical Islamist movement that was on the threshold of achieving electoral victory in 1991 when the military intervened. This set in motion violent years of civil war, with atrocities committed by both the state and those Islamists who had taken up arms, even as political forces and the people looked on with horror and with distrust of both sides. Finally, during the administration of Algeria's president since 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the militant Islamists seem to have been defeated and some measure of reconciliation achieved. Evans and Phillips enrich this story with their appreciation of the ironies of Algeria's history and a healthy distrust of all established authorities, domestic and foreign. (There is a harsh critique of U.S. intervention in support of Bouteflika's government since 9/11.) The early pages of this collaborative effort by a historian and a journalist offer perhaps the best available brief overview of Algeria's history and its 132 years of French rule.