The best books about Algeria 📚

Browse the best books on Algeria as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Legionnaire no. 31022

Legionnaire no. 31022

By Thomas Cushny

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books about the French Foreign Legion from someone who joined

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Book cover of The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

By Isabelle Eberhardt

Why this book?

Isabelle Eberhardt was born in 1877. She was “a crossdresser and sensualist, an experienced drug taker and a transgressor of boundaries”. Born in Switzerland, she crossed the Sahara Desert on horseback dressed as a male marabout, driven by a hunger for nomadic adventures, and for love. Isabelle’s evocative diaries are intense, beautifully written, self-centred and dramatic, occasionally very funny. She fell madly in love with the Sahara, was accused of being a spy, married a young Algerian soldier, and drowned in a desert flash flood at the age of 27. This book is about a short life that burned radiantly…

From the list:

The best books on the intimate lives of landscapes

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Book cover of The German Mujahid

The German Mujahid

By Boualem Sansal, Frank Wynne

Why this book?

For decades, Holocaust denial was widespread in Arab countries. That’s beginning to change, and Sansal’s harrowing novel – inspired in part by a Nazi officer who escaped to Algeria and became a hero in the war for independence aids in writing that history back into consciousness. We gain extraordinary intimacy with two brothers as they contend in different ways with the challenges of North African immigrant life in France, the massacre by the Algerian military that claims the lives of their parents, and the discovery of their father’s horrific past. Sansal was attacked for comparing Islamist fundamentalism to the…

From the list:

The best fiction for recovering erased history

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Book cover of Waiting for Wild Beasts to Vote

Waiting for Wild Beasts to Vote

By Ahmadou Kourouma

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on African presidents and their history

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Book cover of Jet

Jet

By Russell Blake

Why this book?

Jet follows a former Mossad operative who faked her death to escape the spy life. The main character travels all over the world and the different places she visits read real and authentic. As a reader, I believed how much she wanted to be free of that life and how events early on in the book make it impossible for her to stay hidden. The author chooses unusual destinations like Trinidad, Venezuela, Algeria, and Belize, and I loved how the plot wove together between the different characters and places. The whole book feels like a roller coaster ride!

From the list:

The best books that don't use cookie-cutter stereotypes about characters or places

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

Legionnaire: Five Years in the French Foreign Legion

By Simon Murray

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books about life in the French Foreign Legion

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