ambiguity and nostalgia, French-ruled Algeria, freedom fighters, French historians


If one were to choose two words to characterize the books under review, they would be ambiguity and nostalgia. Both are personal reflections of how the final years of Frenchruled Algeria affected the authors.

Mokhtar Mokhtefi (1935-2015) was an Algerian Muslim freedom fighter who, in 1956, having completed high school at the Lycée Aumale in Constantine, enlisted in the National Liberation Army (ALN) of Algeria. We follow his story from early childhood in Berroughaia, a small town south of Algiers, to his re-entry into Algeria from Tunisia in July 1962, just as Algeria achieved independence.

Benjamin Stora (1950- ) is a distinguished French historian of Algerian Jewish origin, born in Constantine, whose family was more or less constrained to settle in France in June 1962. They, like most Algerian Sephardic Jews had roots in North Africa going back hundreds of years, but the Crémieux Decree of 1870 had made them, willing or not, full French citizens. Thus their fate in 1962, exodus to France, was the same as that of the million or so European settlers (pieds noirs).