“Algérie montait à la tête”
|Charles de Gaulle in Aïn Témouchent,|
Algeria, December 1960
Here are some of the small and large delights and surprises of Horne's book for me, who had known little about Algeria, particularly about that savage period in its history:
- Almost seven years into the bloody Algerian war, crowds of Muslims shouting: “Algérie algérienne… Vive de Gaulle!” in Aïn Témouchent — and the event that precipitated the deminstration: de Gaulle's astonishing reference in a 1960 speech to “an Algerian Republic, which will one day exist."
- That same year, as plots against de Gaulle's life by disaffected members of the military and pieds noirs mount by the minute, “A handsome young pied noir playboy, tired of life, decided to ram de Gaulle’s helicopter with his private plane.” He didn't do it because he couldn't figure out which helicopter was de Gaulle's.
- Horne's quotations from Frantz Fanon, known previously to me only as the apologist for revolutionary violence, the author of The Wretched of the Earth, and the revolutionary whose éclat was second only to Che Guevara's, on women's roles the Algerian uprisings.The mentions are brief, but the effects of women taking active roles where they had never done before must have been even more cataclysmic in Algeria's traditional Arab and Kabyle cultures than was the influx of women into the workforce in America during World War II.
It also sounds a bit like Yasmina Khadra, who writes in French under an assumed name and who criticizes both the state of Algeria and what he sees as Western misunderstanding of the Islamic world. Sounds to me like Algeria is one pretty interesting country, though I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable visiting these days.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013