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A History of Algeria
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Book description

Covering a period of five hundred years, from the arrival of the Ottomans to the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, James McDougall presents an expansive new account of the modern history of Africa's largest country. Drawing on substantial new scholarship and over a decade of research, McDougall places Algerian society at the centre of the story, tracing the continuities and the resilience of Algeria's people and their cultures through the dramatic changes and crises that have marked the country. Whether examining the emergence of the Ottoman viceroyalty in the early modern Mediterranean, the 130 years of French colonial rule and the revolutionary war of independence, the Third World nation-building of the 1960s and 1970s, or the terrible violence of the 1990s, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers in African and Middle Eastern history and politics, as well as those concerned with the wider affairs of the Mediterranean.


'… masterful - comprehensive, deeply researched, and balanced. If there is an overall theme that is woven through this well-written book, it is that the state has never been all-powerful … and Algerian society has never been as fragmented or feeble as many observers have claimed.'

William B. Quandt - Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, and author of Revolution and Political Leadership: Algeria, 1954–1968

'… the best single-volume study of the country in English … an elegant, detailed, and lucid guide to the rich and fascinating story of the Algerian people.'

Susan Slyomovics - Distinguished Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

'A majestic historical portrait of a deeply complex country … the pre-eminent scholarly account in any language that all future students of the subject will have to consult.'

John Entelis - Fordham University, New York

'… stunning … Unlike the majority of studies that take Algeria as merely a template for French colonialism, or as a model of Third World revolution, McDougall’s work seeks to both interpret and understand the lived social realities of its people and their past.'

Julia Clancy-Smith - The University of Arizona

'This awesome and superlative piece of historical writing tells a tremendous tale … Elegant prose and an anthropological eye for the people who have been the actors of this history only make the narrative more compelling.'

Francis Ghiles - Barcelona Centre for International Affairs

'Africa’s largest state by size, Algeria is an energy producer whose political and religious future is of critical importance to the Mediterranean, north Africa and the wider Islamic world. Oxford historian McDougall paints a compelling portrait of a country whose history is too often seen through the narrow lens of French colonialism and the 1954–62 war of independence.'

Source: 'Summer Books 2017 History list', Financial Times

'The work is based on an extensive source knowledge and also incorporates eyewitness interviews into the reasoning. These are complemented by a wide selection of current research literature.'

Alexandre Bischofberger Source: Francia-Recensio

'… the book contains a wealth of information and is useful for students and scholars of Algeria …'

Abdelmajid Hannoum Source: The American Historical Review

'… McDougall draws upon a range of primary sources and interviews in crafting his nuanced arguments, offering a valuable piece of scholarship aimed at both the student as well as the expert.'

Gavin Murray-Miller Source: The English Historical Review

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-8
  • 1 - Ecologies, Societies, Cultures and the State, 1516–1830
    pp 9-48
  • 7 - The Fragile and Resilient Country, 1992–2012
    pp 290-336


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