Read My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir by Ted Morgan Online


In My Battle of Algiers, an eminent historian and biographer recounts his own experiences in the savage Algerian War, an event all too reminiscent of America's present difficulties in Iraq.Ted Morgan recalls a war that we would do well not to forget. A Yale graduate who had grown up in both France and America -- he was then known as Sanche de Gramont and was then a FrenchIn My Battle of Algiers, an eminent historian and biographer recounts his own experiences in the savage Algerian War, an event all too reminiscent of America's present difficulties in Iraq.Ted Morgan recalls a war that we would do well not to forget. A Yale graduate who had grown up in both France and America -- he was then known as Sanche de Gramont and was then a French citizen -- he was drafted into the French Army and served in Algeria 1956 and '57. In this memoir, Morgan relives the harrowing conflict in which every Arab was considered a terrorist -- and increasingly, many were.As a newly minted second lieutenant, he spends months in the back country -- the bled -- where everyone, including himself, becomes involved in unimaginable barbarities. "You cannot fight a guerrilla war with humanitarian principles," a superior officer tells Morgan early on. He beats up and kills a prisoner who won't talk and may have been responsible for the death of a friend. He kills another man in a firefight. He sees men die in encounters too small to be recorded, ones that his fellow soldiers quickly forget. For Morgan, the memories will never go away.Later, in Algiers, Morgan's journalistic experience -- he had spent all of four months as a reporter on the Worcester, MA, Telegram -- gets him a job writing for an official newspaper. He lives through the day-to-day struggle to put down an Arab urban insurgency, the first in modern history, with its unrelenting menu of bombings, assassinations, torture, show trials, executions, and the deliberate humiliation of prisoners. He misses death when a beach casino explodes just as he is going in for lunch. He becomes disillusioned with the war and what it is doing to his country. He is himself arrested, but not for the real offense he committed, helping a deserter to escape.Though the events Ted Morgan describes so vividly happened nearly half a century ago in Algiers, they might as well have taken place in Baghdad today....

Title : My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir
Author :
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ISBN : 9780060852245
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 284 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir Reviews

  • Converse
    2019-02-06 10:18

    The journalist Ted Morgan was born in France but grew up mostly in the United States. In the 1950s, shortly after he had finished college and journalism school, and had started work as a reporter for a Massachuessetts newspaper, he recieved a draft notice from the French army. Thinking that his deceased father would have wanted him to serve, he reported for enlistment in France. After basic training, two non-commissioned officers schools and then officers training in France, he was sent to Algeria where the French were engaged in a war against the native population.Unlike many European colonies, Algeria had a substantial European population and was constitutionally part of the mother country. Algeria had representation in the French parliament, but under a system of suffrage in which the native Moslem population had no voice (they were not considered citizens). The native nationalist forces waged guerrilla warfare in the countryside and carried out terrorist actions in the cities. Morgan first served with an infantry unit in the countryside and then, on leave in the city of Algiers, had the chance to serve much more comfortably as a writer for a propagandistic newspaper put out clandestinely by the French army. Thus he was present during the Battle of Algiers, in which the FLN placed bombs in areas commonly utilized by the European population. The FLN did not use suicide bombers or car bombs. The French army responded with close surveilliance of the Moslem quarter of the city, the Casbah, and torture of suspected militants. The torture was often successful in obtaining useful and factually correct information. Torture played an important role in stopping the terrorist campaign. Torture and other actions of the French army did not succeed in getting the FLN to stop fighting. After a change in government and a new constitution, De Gaulle gave independence to Algeria, much to the chagrin of senior army officers and the European population in Algeria, which had supported his return to power precisely to prevent that result. Elements of the French army engaged in a terrorist campaign against the native Algerian population, and attempted an unsuccessful coup against De Gaulle, to prevent Algerian independence. Morgan's book is as much a memoir of his personal life as an account of the Algerian war. He begins the book with a short history of how France came to occupy Algeria

  • CatherineMustread
    2019-01-19 12:12

    Ted Morgan, born in Switzerland in 1932, the son of a French diplomat, his original name was Comte St. Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont. His family later moved to the US and he attended Yale University and worked as a reporter. Then he was drafted into the French Army in 1955 and sent to Algeria in 1956. This book is a memoir of Morgan's time in Algeria, 1956-57 in which he was a reluctant participant in the Algerian War. Certainly not a complete look at the Algerian War, but interesting nevertheless for his perspective as a French-American.When he became a US citizen in 1977, he legally changed his name to Ted Morgan, an anagram of de Gramont.

  • Raegan Butcher
    2019-01-24 12:21

    Interesting chronicle of the author's years in Algeria fighting a senseless war for France.

  • Vivek
    2019-02-17 12:07

    This is one of the best books I've read about war. Ted Morgan was a french citizen working at an American newspaper (his father had been a French diplomat in the United States before he died serving in World War II) in the fall of 1955 when he received notification that he had been conscripted into the French Army during that country's effort to stamp out an anti-colonial rebellion in Algeria. Morgan, who didn't seem to have especially strong loyalties to France, joined out of a sense of obligation to the memory of his father. In this book (written and published after the US invasion of Iraq) he recounts his personal experience as a soldier in Algeria, focusing on the "Battle of Algiers" - an effort by the French to battle guerrilla terrorism on the part of the nationalist FLN in the capital city.Morgan does a good job of concisely summarizing the reasons for the conflict in Algeria and its course prior to his involvement. Where the book really shines is in his narrative of his involvement in the war and its many tragedies. Morgan's observations are poignant but concise and to the point - he does not waste any ink making his account overly dramatic or by long discourses about his views of the morality of war. I never got the sense that Morgan was preaching. He recounts horrors committed by both sides, and paints a picture of how a conflict like this inevitably results in the loss of innocence all around.Near the end of the book, Morgan reflects:"The Algerian experience did not enrich me; it diminished me. Young men are sent out to fight wars and are placed in situations they are not prepared to deal with. I was deeply ashamed of what I had done in Champlain, but at the same time I did not recognize the right to be criticized by those who had not been put in harm's way. It's a little too easy to sit in one's living room and watch TV and be horrified by the reprehensible acts committed by men in combat. Only those who have been there have the right to do that, and I have been horrified at myself, and I have known myself to be morally compromised.I really enjoyed Morgan's voice in the narrative, and look forward to reading more autobiographical works by him.

  • Waven
    2019-02-12 13:11

    I came to this book by accident, with little previous knowledge of the political or physical landscape it describes. What I found rather astonishing were the parallels between the 'there and then' and the 'here and now.' The clash of Eastern and Western ideologies, underground rebel cells, marketplace bombings, secret interrogations, an occupied land trying to push out its 'invaders' by any means necessary... It reads like dispatches from the Iraq war, from Afghanistan. But it's from fifty years ago.The author, a French citizen who spent much of his life in the U.S., was conscripted into the French military for the Algerian War. He eventually landed in Algiers as a sort of propagandist for the French. Privy to military information but able to move through the city in plain clothes, he enjoyed an unusual perspective on the war.And much of it was unsettling. Classism and colonialism meeting indiscriminate terrorism. Nazi torture methods used by the very people who suffered under them just fifteen years before. Hundreds of people "disappeared" by regiments with carte blanche to obtain information. Brutality and ignorant hate from every quarter.Despite the situation, and much to his credit, the author keeps a human face on all involved. It is one of the more hopeful pieces of the story of Algiers. And though this book is an easy read, it is not always easy to read. The ugliness of mankind rarely is. But I do recommend it, if only as a rather unique look at a conflict with few clear edges.

  • Owen
    2019-02-11 11:00

    Very gritty tale about a little-known war, one that the French said for a long time did not exist, as Algeria was then considered as part of France. Colonised since the 1830s, the Arab independence movement really got under way in the 1950s, eventually prompting Paris to bring in the "paras" (elite army troops) to act as a police force. There followed some of the nastiest terrorism and counter-terrorism imaginable and it is well-documented, often at first hand, by this accomplished writer and historian, who found himself doing his compulsory two years of National Service in the French army right about this time.It starts with a very good potted history of Algeria and its colonisation, and then mixes up Morgan's personal experience first as a soldier in the "bled" or semi-desert areas outside Algiers, and then as a journalist still working for the army, in Algiers, just as the National Liberation Front (FLN in French) began to bring the fight into urban regions. There is a great deal of rough soldierly talk - de Gramont (as he was then called before changing his name upon becoming a US citizen) holds nothing back, even admitting his own part in some of the more heinous behaviour of the troops stationed in remote areas of the country.Morgan is a seasoned journalist and writer whose books are always interesting and this is an easy-to-read and insightful work, if a little brutal at times, for anyone wishing to gain some basic knowledge about this unfortunate period in French/Algerian relations.

  • Jennyb
    2019-01-23 12:19

    This is a lot better than you think it is going to be. Less a work of military history than a personal memoir set amidst a military campaign, it's both interesting and educational. Although I studied French as an undergraduate, I feel like I learned a lot about speaking French, and very little about France's colonial experiences in Algeria. Given that France struggles with the legacy of that endeavor as much as they did with the execution of it, I guess that is not surprising. In any case, one thing I like about Morgan's memoir is his crash course on France's presence in Algeria: it's quick, concise and clear -- the perfect basis in case you choose to pursue further reading on the topic (such as Alistair Horne's Savage War of Peace, which I hope to pick up one fine day). The other thing I like is the "unvarnished" portrait Morgan gives not just of France's motivations and tactics in the war (which wasn't a war, by the way, since Algeria was France, and France was *emphatically* not at war with itself, oh dear no), but of himself. Most narrators will bowlderize, presenting you with the parts you will admire and respect. Morgan gives you warts and all, and unapologetically. As an American programmed to accept people's teary and apologetic confessions, I find his simple honesty bracing. I also find his book eminently worthy of a read for anyone interested in this topic, or America's prosecution of the war in Iraq. Ils sont pareil, ces deux guerres.

  • Leonardo Etcheto
    2019-01-27 08:57

    Fascinating, engrossing account of the authors experience fighting in Algeirs as a conscripted soldier. He did not have to go(was living in USA but was a french citizen - Sanche de Garmont), but went through officer training and then was stationed in the "bled" the countryside. Saw plenty of disasters, heroism, cowardice, hopelesness, etc. A conscript army fighting an unpopular war is not a pretty thing.He was transferred to Algiers thanks to his contacts and then saw the start of urban terrorism by the FLN. Saw the french paratroopers tactics where torture led to the data required to breakup the FLN. In the end France won the battles but lost the war due in large part to the tactics required to win the battles - institution of a police/totalitarian state. The french learned from the Nazy and the Viet how to fight a ruthless war. The story of how the hardliners on both sides led to the war and the vicious fighting is a case in point of the saying that history is a farce that ends in tragedy. IMO in the end everyone lost. Algiers has a poor government and France still has an arab problem. "The Algerian experience did not enrich me; it diminished me." Ted Morgan.

  • Tom
    2019-02-11 09:58

    I'd previously picked up, "A Savage War of Peace" about the Algerian uprising and found it too dry. As I've always been curious about these events I found this instead. This first person account with a judicious amount of sex livened up the story a bit but, most importantly, this is the history of terrorism as we know it. Modern urban terrorism was born here; as a reaction to, essentially, imperialism/colonialism. And they're Muslim. It's challenging for one's moral center when the first example of terrorists are, in a way, sympathetic. Also challenging is that torture, read about here, works. The author awkwardly tries to compare Algeria to Iraq and whereas it's an interesting intellectual exercise, there's really not much meet to comparing the political situations. Most of the similarities lie in the aspects of warfare. Ultimately, I'd recommend it.

  • David
    2019-02-16 15:04

    Very well-written and interesting tale of a complex and often-misunderstood time and place. Those familiar with the "Battle of Algiers" film of the late 1960s will be interested in this book, and also will learn (if, like me, you didn't know already) that the film covers only a very small portion of the actual Algiers and Algerian conflict.The book is relevant today in many ways, even though Algeria is a much different place. Still, plenty of lessons to apply to the current battle against Islamofascism. Interestingly enough, in the 1950s the battle was about Arab nationalism, not religion -- so are those people any better off today? I suppose so.There's a little about this book that makes me wonder how much fiction has entered the story-telling, but one often must ask the same question about many memoirs, and perhaps it really doesn't matter if the "truth" is there.

  • Alicia
    2019-01-24 14:01

    In this extremely candid look at his life, journalist Ted Morgan talks about his time spent fighting in the French army during the Algerian War. He speaks candidly about the torture that became an accepted way of dealing with one of the first uses of urban terrorism by the Algerian resistance fighters. Eventually he is assigned a post at a propagandist newspaper and serves most of his tour of duty in this role. The book makes some interesting comparisons to the "war on terrorism" and some deeply personal revelations about his own actions. If you are interested in the time period or that part of the world this is a fascinating but incomplete look at that war.

  • Bill
    2019-01-18 13:12

    Very good memoir by a man who served in the French Army during the Battle of Algiers.This was really the first war in which terrorism was used with the FLN placing bombs in cafes etc. and killing many innocent people. Not that much different from what's going on in Iraq today.Having said that, the French were pretty despicable as well, using torture as a matter of course and having many prisoners "die while trying to escape".

  • Bill
    2019-02-14 15:12

    A really engaging first-hand account of the French war in Algeria. Morgan was drafted into the conflict while studying in America and tells of his experience as a soldier and intelligence officer. He makes a depressingly good argument about how torture does indeed work. Even with that, it's a story that definitely should be read.

  • Eric Gittins
    2019-02-17 17:14

    A hard book to read for some one with little knowledge of the French language.The atrocities carried out by both sides in the conflict are beyond belief. I am only glad that the British colonised Australia and not the French

  • George
    2019-02-11 17:02

    A great look at the battle for Algerian independence through the eyes of a unique observer and participant. Filled with interesting commentary on the nature of war and the impact of war on the individual.

  • Nicko
    2019-02-04 12:57

    The lesson of colonialism and to a larger extent occupation of countries by foreign powers is like a transplant, eventually the body will reject it. The chafing, mutually uncomprehending collision of Western occupiers and the Muslim occupied. History has a tendency to repeat itself.

  • Christine
    2019-02-16 16:54

    This could have been SO much better. The author bogs it down with too many inconsequential characters and events that add absolutely zilch to the history and his personal experiences. However, I do now know more about France's occupation of Algeria, so that made it worth it.

  • Cynthia
    2019-02-06 14:57

    ALGERIA. This was good. Maybe I should stick to non-fiction written by a western author.

  • Jb
    2019-02-12 17:01

    Ted Morgan is an anagram for deGramont. He fought with the French against Algerian revolutionaries circa 1957. Yes, it was a harrowing experience

  • Devowasright
    2019-02-14 12:59

    a fascinating little slice of history, and some of the earliest uses of terror tactics between the muslim world and the west.

  • Beatrice
    2019-01-31 11:18

    Being older than I at the time of the Battle of Algiers, he has a better concept of what was really going on and I understood quite a bit which was previously very vague in my mind.

  • John
    2019-02-03 14:58

    His experiences as a dual-citizen French army officer in the 1957 revolts (author's name is an anagram of his French last name, deGramont)

  • Ami
    2019-02-14 11:24

    a great first-hand account of a frenchman's experience during the battle of algiers. it's not heavy reading and presents an interesting perspective on this mostly unknown region