Travel the World in Books Challenge: Algeria

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I’ve got another book to cross off my Travel the World in Books challenge. I knew I was being ambitious when I took on attempting to read one book from every country, but I have to say, I am learning so much, which I thoroughly enjoy. This time, I covered Algeria.

Algeria is a country in Northern Africa with a population of 40,263,711. Their government is currently a presidential republic, although, from 1830-1962, Algeria was a colony of France. The struggle for independence from France was the main subject of the book that I read. (Side note: I always knew that Great Britain was a major colonizer, see also: American Revolution, but until this year, with this book and also with the (this is my friend’s sister’s Usborne page, for the record) Lift-the-Flap Atlas we use as part of teaching Dominic geography, I realized for the first time that France was also a major colonizer.) The capital is Algiers.

Map of Algeria

Picture and facts from CIA World Factbook:

The book that I picked for Algeria is (disclaimer: affiliate link) Wolves in the City: The Death of French Algeria by Paul Henissart.

I don’t even know where to start with telling you about this book. It was long and it was dense, but not in a bad way. The author had excellent attention to detail in what was a very complicated situation, including personally doing a lot of interviews with people involved in the situation. What I do know about finishing this book, is that nobody handled the situation well. The French government didn’t handle it well, the FLN didn’t handle it well, the OAS didn’t handle it well – everybody made a giant mess of things and this resulted in a very bloody situation. A lot of people lost their lives.

Before this, I didn’t really know much about the history of colonialism in Africa. I knew it happened, but beyond that, I couldn’t tell you very much. And to be honest, since this book, I couldn’t tell you much about the history of it, except for what happened in Algeria. But I feel like even though I’ll never be an expert, any part I can learn is beneficial. There is always more to learn, but that shouldn’t stop us from learning what we can when we can, even though we’ll never learn it all.

This book was definitely eye opening, though hard to understand at times. Out of necessity, I googled a few things. There’s also a couple of instances of French where it’s not translated and I’m like “Okay, I have no idea what that means.” But overall, you can still get the general idea and themes of what is going on.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who is interested in history. It is definitely a time-consuming read, but it’s worth muscling through. Now, I’m on to a lighter and funnier book though. It’s all about balance.

Have you read any good books about Algeria? What do you know about Algeria? Have you ever been there? 

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