My Battle of Algiers by Ted Morgan
A well-known journalist and biographer, Ted Morgan, born Sanche de Gramont, was as a young man a reluctant conscript in France’s last colonial war. Morgan arrived in Algeria in September 1956, two years into the gruesome and complex struggle that would put an end to France’s 130-year North African empire. Now, five decades later, he writes that the guerre d’Algérie, which Algerians call their revolution, is worth recalling because of its role in the invention of modern Arab terrorism. But he also means to come to terms with an experience that in his own eyes left him morally compromised, and that remains a subject of sharp political controversy.
Military historians and moral philosophers may quarrel about just what constitutes modern terrorism, Arab or otherwise. But the terrorism of the Algerian nationalist insurgents, which was deliberately aimed at civilians, seemed at the time unprecedented—more cruel and immoral, Albert Camus wrote, than anything envisioned, let alone carried out, by such earlier proponents of terrorism as the Russian nihilists or the Spanish anarchists.
About the Author
Roger Kaplan has written widely on French politics and on Algeria’s Islamist insurgency of the 1990’s.