My Battle of Algiers by Ted Morgan
A Memoir

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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 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.


About Ted Morgan

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Ted Morgan is the author of more than fifteen books, including FDR: A Biography and Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America. As Sanche de Gramont, he was the only French citizen to win the Pulitzer Prize (for journalism). He lives in New York City.
Published January 31, 2006 by Smithsonian. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction

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An unforgettable cautionary narrative of the author's days as a French combatant and military journalist during the war for Algerian independence.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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In this candid, powerfully wrought memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winner Morgan (Churchill ; Maugham ; Re

Nov 14 2005 | Read Full Review of My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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The country's tactics sparked an antiwar movement in France, and the war continued to rage in the Algerian countryside until the French conceded defeat in 1962.

Nov 14 2005 | Read Full Review of My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir

Hippocampus Magazine

His father’s death created in Morgan “an aversion to causes, however noble,” which attracted him to the observer’s platform of journalism since “this was where it all led, the patriotism, the commitment, the compulsion to get involved—to a wooden cross in an English cemetery.” Yet when the French...

Apr 01 2012 | Read Full Review of My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir

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