Algeria: France’s Undeclared War

In This Review

Algeria: France's Undeclared War (The Making of the Modern World)
by Martin Evans
Oxford University Press, USA, 2012
304 pp. $35.00
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In the dismantling of Western empires that took place following World War II, no case was more dramatic or more tragic than the brutal eight-year war the Algerians fought, beginning in 1954, to end over 100 years of colonial domination by France. This confrontation has never lacked its historians, memoirists, and polemicists. But Evans, a master scholar, has produced a comprehensive narrative, concentrating on the years of the "undeclared war" but also giving sufficient attention to the colonial era of 1830 to 1954. This is a history equally of Algeria and France, as it must be. The book carefully documents the violence and torture committed by both sides of the conflict, whose grim history is matched by a grim aftermath and legacy. French President Charles de Gaulle finally got France out of Algeria but callously turned his back on the fleeing French settlers and on the harkis, Algerians who had fought for France. The Algerian revolutionaries who led the fight for independence became a military caste that has ruled the country ever since.