France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation
by Phillip C. Naylor
Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000. 457 pp. $49.95
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Translations of this item:
Naylor, a talented historian at Marquette University, notes that the literature on these two countries makes it seem like their relationship ended in 1962. But not for him: his account starts then and traverses the next near-four decades, surveying the still-suffocatingly close post-colonial era. It seems that no matter how hard the two peoples try to disengage or normalize their relations, they are fated to be in each other's hair. In part, their connection is practical: Algeria provides oil and gas on the one hand, workers on the other; in turn, France provides aid, a market, an employer, and other sources of support. But the more interesting connection, the deeper one, is that concerning identity: to an amazing extent, the French sense of self remains defined by Algeria, to the point that the "second Algerian revolution" of 1988 caused a profound crisis of self in France too.
Naylor capably navigates the story and presents it in basically two parts: how France under Charles de Gaulle very capably came to terms with the first Algerian revolution; and how Franois Mitterrand and his successors have tried, with only partial success, to achieve this same adjustment a second time.