The most recommended books about Algeria

Who picked these books? Meet our 38 experts.

38 authors created a book list connected to Algeria, and here are their favorite Algeria books.
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Book cover of Algerian White

Jessica Ayesha Northey Author Of Civil Society in Algeria: Activism, Identity and the Democratic Process

From my list on understanding the importance of Algerian History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved Algeria since I lived there for 3 years from 2007. The experiences of the 20th century, particularly the War of Independence, make Algeria such an important country. The anti-colonial War overturned an entrenched colonialism, not only in Algeria, but set in train a movement for freedom across an entire continent. I have written extensively on the growth of civil society associations and how these helped people recover from tragedies; and more recently, the developments that sprung from the Algerian Hirak of 2019. This saw millions of protesters march peacefully, for over a year, to bring about significant changes and new understandings of citizenship in the 21st century.

Jessica's book list on understanding the importance of Algerian History

Jessica Ayesha Northey Why did Jessica love this book?

One of Algeria’s greatest writers, Assia Djebar, deserves far greater recognition in the English-speaking world.

Her book, Algerian White, gives a painful account of the loss of three important Algerian intellectuals, against the backdrop of the Black Decade, and offers an eloquent and moving account of Algeria’s trauma of the 1990s.

Her analysis of Algerian society, culture, and language offers us a powerful reflection on the difficulties of nation-building and identity, in the post-colonial period and in challenging times.  

By Assia Djebar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Algerian White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Algerian White, Assia Djebar weaves a tapestry of the epic and bloody ongoing struggle in her country between Islamic fundamentalism and the post-colonial civil society. Many Algerian writers and intellectuals have died tragically and violently since the 1956 struggle for independence. They include three beloved friends of Djebar: Mahfoud Boucebi, a psychiatrist; M'Hamed Boukhobza, a sociologist; and Abdelkader Alloula, a dramatist; as well as Albert Camus. In Algerian White, Djebar finds a way to meld the personal and the political by describing in intimate detail the final days and hours of these and other Algerian men and women, many…


Book cover of Under Two Flags

Stephen Carver Author Of The Author Who Outsold Dickens: The Life and Works of W.H. Ainsworth

From my list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a great one for alternative histories. I’m particularly fascinated by authors who were bestsellers in their own day but have been edited out of the official version of ‘English literature’. We constantly have Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and so forth fed back to us through reprinted novels, costume dramas, and lavish film adaptations, but there were other authors active at the time who commanded huge sales but whose work has now been largely forgotten or disregarded. These authors deserve attention, while their rediscovered work would freshen up the ongoing discourse of cultural retrieval. Seek them out, as I have, and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Stephen's book list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school

Stephen Carver Why did Stephen love this book?

Discovered and first published by W.H. Ainsworth, ‘Ouida’ – named from a childhood mispronunciation of ‘Louise’ – went on to become a prolific and bestselling novelist. Her style was melodramatic, intense, and bodice-ripping, her novels usually set against a society or military background. She wrote forty-five novels, Under Two Flags being the most successful. She remained popular until the early 1890s and, like Ainsworth, was granted a Civil List pension for her services to literature. Also like Ainsworth, she is not much read nowadays. In the novel, the profligate hero fakes his own death to avoid gambling debts and exiles himself to Algeria, joining the Chasseurs d’Afrique, the forerunner of the French Foreign Legion. A long way from the moralising tone of much Victorian fiction, ‘Ouida’ always keeps it racy and swashbuckling. 

By Ouida,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under Two Flags as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Handsome young Bertie Cecil, star horseman, pride of the Queen's guards, and heir to the Royallieu fortune, is forced to flee England when he accepts the blame for a scandal that threatens the honour of his mistress and the reputation of his younger brother. Faking his death, Cecil heads to Algeria, where he enlists anonymously in the Foreign Legion and serves under the French flag.

Determined to live and die in obscurity and sworn never to return to England, Cecil finds his resolution shaken by his relationships with two women who love him, the haughty Princess Venetia Corona and the…


Book cover of The Stranger

Angel Dionne Author Of Sardines

From my list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to believe that my own characters struggle with being human. They struggle with their bitterness, their relations to others (or lack thereof), and their unresolved guilt. What happens when guilt is left unresolved? What happens when someone enters into a state of self-imposed isolation? These are topics I enjoy exploring in my work. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. My mother deserves all the credit. At bedtime, rather than reading bedtime stories to me from a book, she would make up a story and then ask me to do the same. This helped me to develop a lifelong love for reading and writing.

Angel's book list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance

Angel Dionne Why did Angel love this book?

I first read the English translation of this book during my undergraduate studies. The first time I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Something about it disturbed me, made me feel sick, and made me question what it means to be human.

I felt myself called to read it again years later and, just recently, I picked it up a third time. Mersault’s indifference in relation to his experiences and to society forced me to question my own views concerning the meaning of life.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the intrigue of a psychological thriller, The Stranger—Camus's masterpiece—gives us the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. With an Introduction by Peter Dunwoodie; translated by Matthew Ward.

Behind the subterfuge, Camus explores what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd" and describes the condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of twentieth-century life. 

“The Stranger is a strikingly modern text and Matthew Ward’s translation will enable readers to appreciate why Camus’s stoical anti-hero and ­devious narrator remains one of the key expressions of…


Book cover of Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics: Algeria Compared

Dalia Ghanem Author Of Understanding the Persistence of Competitive Authoritarianism in Algeria

From my list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hold a doctorate in political science and am an expert on Algeria. I was a senior scholar at Carnegie for ten years before I joined the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), the EU's official think tank. I was born in Algeria, where I grew up. When I was fourteen, between 22-23 September 1997 the massacre of Bentalha took place while I was living in Algeria, and I became obsessed with that massacre. This obsession led me ten years later to write a Ph.D. on that bloody page of Algerian history, political violence, and jihadism. Eventually, my expertise encompassed all of Algeria's political, social, and economic developments. 

Dalia's book list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria

Dalia Ghanem Why did Dalia love this book?

In this book, Lowi examines why Algeria's domestic political economy disintegrated in the mid-1980s and how the regime eventually reclaimed power and hegemony. Miriam Lowi discusses the significance of leadership decisions for political outcomes and extends her theory to explain the diversity in stability among oil-exporting states in response to economic shocks. Comparing Algeria to Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia, she inquires as to why certain regimes fail and endure regime change while others remain stable or are able to regain stability after a time of turmoil.

By Miriam R. Lowi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can we make sense of Algeria's post-colonial experience - the tragedy of unfulfilled expectations, the descent into violence, the resurgence of the state? Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics explains why Algeria's domestic political economy unravelled from the mid-1980s, and how the regime eventually managed to regain power and hegemony. Miriam Lowi argues the importance of leadership decisions for political outcomes, and extends the argument to explain the variation in stability in oil-exporting states following economic shocks. Comparing Algeria with Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, she asks why some states break down and undergo regime change, while…


Book cover of Legionnaire no. 31022

Jaime Salazar Author Of Legion of the Lost: The true experience of an American in the French Foreign Legion

From my list on the French Foreign Legion from someone who joined.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1999, I followed my childhood dreams and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. In 2005, I published my first work, Legion of the Lost, which chronicles my swashbuckling experience serving in the French Foreign Legion. This is my story. 

Jaime's book list on the French Foreign Legion from someone who joined

Jaime Salazar Why did Jaime love this book?

Cushny wanted to join the royal air force but was barred due to his eyesight. Instead he joined up with the French foreign legion in Algeria. He barely escaped with his life after serving in one of the fiercest moments in its history, the 1920 wars against moroccan separatists and berbers. It paints a shocking portrait of service in the legion.

Book cover of Legionnaire: Five Years in the French Foreign Legion

Joel Struthers Author Of Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion

From my list on life in the French Foreign Legion.

Why am I passionate about this?

One has to learn about France's Military history to understand the Legion. I served in her ranks, and my efforts are to help educate those interested in facts. That is why I wrote the book Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion and continue to laisse with the Legion to try and help increase recruitment.

Joel's book list on life in the French Foreign Legion

Joel Struthers Why did Joel love this book?

This was ‘the book’ that ultimately led to my joining the Legion to attain the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e régiment étranger de parachutistes). 

I had the distinct honour to interview Mr. Simon Murray, and discuss his meaningful book. Mr. Murray's compelling first-hand account of his time with the REP during the Franco-Algerian war (1960s) is the example of what a Legionnaire represents. Mr. Simon Murray, CBE is a British Hong Kong-based businessman, adventurer, and author.

By Simon Murray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Legionnaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the greatest adventure stories in years.' - Chris Patten

'The drama, excitement and colour of a good guts-and-glory thriller.' - Dr. Henry Kissinger

The French Foreign Legion - mysterious, romantic, deadly - is filled with men of dubious character, and hardly the place for a proper Englishman just nineteen years of age. Yet in 1960, Simon Murray traveled alone to Paris, Marseilles, and on to Algeria to fulfill the toughest contract of his life: a five-year stint in the Legion. Along the way, he kept a diary.

Legionnaire is a compelling, firsthand account of Murray's experience with this…


Book cover of The Words to Say it

Helen Epstein Author Of The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma

From my list on healing from sexual trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a veteran author, journalist, and journalism professor who has taught over 1000 students. At the age of 50, through a memoir I began writing, I fell down a rabbit hole of memory and began to suspect I had been sexually abused as a child. The man was a close family friend, who liked to call himself my grandfather. He did not speak English. My parents were immigrants and the usual difficulties of retrieving memories from childhood were complicated by the fact that they were all in the Czech language. For years I read everything I could find about childhood sexual abuse and then everything I could read about psychoanalysis.

Helen's book list on healing from sexual trauma

Helen Epstein Why did Helen love this book?

This is the first book I ever read about how, exactly, a classic psychoanalysis worked to cure a woman deeply damaged by childhood abuse.

It is set in France and written by an Algerian/French writer and academic, who seeks out psychoanalysis after physicians have given up on curing her symptoms. It is an intricate examination of how psychotherapy works and has become a classic text. 

By Marie Cardinal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Words to Say it as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE WORDS TO SAY IT by Marie Cardinal, translated by Pat Goodheart, Van Vactor & Goodheart Publisher, is in the words of Bruno Bettelheim "the best account of a psychoanalysis as seen and experienced by the patient." It is the story of a healing set against the events in Algeria. Taught in over seven hundred and fifty colleges and universities as a text, and in over fifteen different departments, literature at Harvard University and in courses in medical ethics at Yale Medical School. It has received rave reviews in The London Sunday Times and the New York Times Book Review,…


Book cover of Waiting for Wild Beasts to Vote

Anaïs Angelo Author Of Power and the Presidency in Kenya: The Jomo Kenyatta Years

From my list on African presidents and their history.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a university student, I wanted to know how African presidencies function, not only how African presidents acquire and keep power, but also how they imagine it, how they anticipate political battles, who they trust, and who they fear. All too often, the literature focuses on colonial legacy and neo-colonization and describes African presidents with too little agency. As a doctoral researcher, I stumbled on a biography of Jomo Kenyatta and got caught by the intricacies of his political career. Since then, Kenyan political history has become my area of specialization, and while my background in political science keeps inspiring me, I have a passion for historical writing.

Anaïs' book list on African presidents and their history

Anaïs Angelo Why did Anaïs love this book?

There is one thing historians cannot always document: the rumors and supernatural beliefs that surround presidential politics. Though Ahmadou Kourouma’s book is inspired by real presidential figures, it transcends them to illustrate how the president’s political (and masculine) authority sometimes turns into a sacred aura. Just like Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The Wizard of the Crow, Kourouma depicts a violent presidential system built on fragile fundaments.

By Ahmadou Kourouma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waiting for Wild Beasts to Vote as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ahmadou Kourouma's remarkable novel is narrated by Bingo, a West African sora - storyteller and king's fool. Over the course of five nights he tells the life story of Koyaga, President and Dictator of the Gulf Coast. Orphaned at the age of seven, Koyaga grows up to be a terrible hunter; he fights mythical beasts, and is a shape-shifter, capable of changing himself into beasts and birds. He fights in the French colonial armies, in Vietnam and Algeria, but on his return he mounts a coup and becomes ruler and dictator of the Gulf Coast. For thirty years he runs…


Book cover of The Rebel's Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon

Arash Azizi Author Of What Iranians Want: Women, Life, Freedom

From my list on changing the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up under a repressive dictatorship in Iran, I always wondered about how humans could come together to bring about change. Years of living in different countries have only prolonged that quest. I had identified as a socialist since my teen years in the 2000s (when this political identity wasn’t so popular) and have continuously studied the history of the Left and the pathways it offers to make a better world. I don’t believe in exhaustive favorite lists, so these are just five books that, I think, will help us better appreciate this long history of a quest for progress. 

Arash's book list on changing the world

Arash Azizi Why did Arash love this book?

Biography is perhaps my favorite genre because, at their best, biographies show us how people are both made by history and make history themselves.

This book is amongst the best political biographies I’ve ever read as it gives a passionate but also fair and critical account of one of the best-known revolutionaries of the 20th century, Frantz Fanon. 

It is a book both about ideas and the humans behind them and is serious on both counts. Whether it’s deep in explaining Fanon’s turn away from orthodox Marxism or his continued attachment to Caribbean poetry, or when simply painting a picture of an afternoon in Tunis when Fanon interacted with his many friends and colleagues, it is a lively read that was hard for me to put down. 

By Adam Shatz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rebel's Clinic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Our Fighting Sisters: Nation, Memory and Gender in Algeria, 1954-2012

Jessica Ayesha Northey Author Of Civil Society in Algeria: Activism, Identity and the Democratic Process

From my list on understanding the importance of Algerian History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved Algeria since I lived there for 3 years from 2007. The experiences of the 20th century, particularly the War of Independence, make Algeria such an important country. The anti-colonial War overturned an entrenched colonialism, not only in Algeria, but set in train a movement for freedom across an entire continent. I have written extensively on the growth of civil society associations and how these helped people recover from tragedies; and more recently, the developments that sprung from the Algerian Hirak of 2019. This saw millions of protesters march peacefully, for over a year, to bring about significant changes and new understandings of citizenship in the 21st century.

Jessica's book list on understanding the importance of Algerian History

Jessica Ayesha Northey Why did Jessica love this book?

Our Fighting Sisters is a wonderful, inspiring, and stylishly written book, drawing on in-depth interviews with celebrated women fighters from the liberation struggle in Algeria.

It is one of the first books to fully engage with the experiences of women who lived through the struggles of the Independence War. It documents the roles women played, both as intellectuals and combatants, in overturning the brutal colonial rule, thus liberating Algeria and in many ways, the African continent.

It still has implications for the future of resistance movements in Algeria and beyond. 

By Natalya Vince,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Fighting Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1954 and 1962, Algerian women played a major role in the struggle to end French rule in one of the twentieth century's most violent wars of decolonisation. This is the first in-depth exploration of what happened to these women after independence in 1962. Based on new oral history interviews with women who participated in the war in a wide range of roles, from urban bombers to members of the rural guerrilla support network, it explores how female veterans viewed the post-independence state and its multiple discourses on 'the Algerian woman' in the fifty years following 1962. It also examines…