In My Battle of Algiers, eminent historian and biographer Ted Morgan recounts his experiences in the savage Algerian War. In 1956, Morgan was drafted into the French Army and was sent thousands of miles overseas to help quell the Algerian uprising. Once there, he witnessed—and became involved in—unimaginable barbarism that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
In this candid, powerfully wrought memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winner Morgan (Churchill; Maugham; Reds) recalls his service as a young officer in France's bitter war in Algeria. A native of France, Morgan was working as a journalist in the United States in the mid-1950s when he received his conscription notice. Following a brief posting to a regiment in the Algerian countryside, he was transferred to Algiers, arriving just in time for the Battle of Algiers, which featured history's first "systematic use of urban terrorism." Placing crude bombs at bus stops, cafes and soccer stadiums, the rebels hoped to "create a climate of insecurity" among the French and to invite reprisals that would turn "moderate Arabs into rebels." The French responded by using torture to extract intelligence. "Torture produced immediate results," Morgan notes, and the French slowly dismantled the urban terrorist cells. By the end of 1957, France had won the battle, but it would lose the war. The country's tactics sparked an antiwar movement in France, and the war continued to rage in the Algerian countryside until the French conceded defeat in 1962. Morgan recalls this fierce history with an intensity that belies that it happened a half century ago. Anyone interested in the origins of modern terrorist tactics will benefit from his recollections. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.