Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History
A particularly vicious and bloody civil war has racked Algeria for a decade. Amnesty International notes that since 1992, in a population of 28 million, 80,000 people have been reported killed, and the actual total is almost certainly higher. This terrible war overshadows Algeria's long and complex history and its prominence on the world economic stage—second in size among African nations, Algeria has the longest Mediterranean coastline and contains the world's fifth-largest natural gas reserves. Algeria, 1830-2000 is a comprehensive narrative history of the country. Benjamin Stora, widely recognized as the leading expert on Algeria, presents the story of this turbulent area from the start of formal French colonialism in the early nineteenth century, through the prolonged war for independence in the latter 1950s, to the internal strife of the present day. This book adapts and updates three short volumes published originally in French by La Découverte. For this English edition, Stora has written a new introductory chapter on Algeria's colonial period (1830-1954) and has revised the final section to bring the volume up to date.
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The cliche "never judge a book by its cover" is what I should have had in mind as soon as I noticed that by the time I finished reading the introduction, Chapter 1 immediately was set in 1954, when Algeria began its fight for independence as a French colony. Yes, you read that correctly: years 1830-1953 are covered in 27 pages. Apparently, Algeria didn't really exist before 1830, when France began conquering it, tossing the ruling Turks out on their turbans. And what happened after wasn't that important, either. That's not to say that (French) historian Benjamin Stora doesn't outline the causes behind the drive towards independence, he just seems more interested in giving us an idea on how Alegeria as it is today, a country broiled in the violence of a religio-political civil war, has come to be.
In this area the book is a fantastic study, but as intimated, ignoring the core of the Algerian people, customs and politics post conquor leaves much to be desired and is symptomatic of how modern historians are towards the formerly conquered.