A Savage War of Peace is the definitive history of the Algerian war of independence, fought from 1954 to 1962. This is a book that the neo-con overlords would have been well advised to have read before they embarked on their adventure in Iraq - but, sadly, none of the hard-won lessons of Algeria ever seeped into the feeble brains of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice. We’ve all paid the price of their fact-free theorizing.
If you want to know, in exacting detail, how Algeria won its independence and how the French government was torn apart in the process, this is the book for you. You will come away with the knowledge that there were no ‘good guys’ in that war; that a war of national liberation is not a glorious thing; that colonialism contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction; and that terrorism is a deliberate tactic with specific political aims (and not, as our present government would have you believe, a mythological force of ‘evil’). And you will come away with a clearer understanding that even in the extremely rare cases when torture can offer a short-term victory, it leads to long-term defeat; its costs outweigh its putative benefits.