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Bibliographie de la Guerre d’Algérie (1954-1962): ouvrages en langue française parus de 1954 à 2009 [Bibliography of the Algerian War (1954-1962): Works in French Published from 1954 to 2009]. Maurice Sarazin. Paris: Editions Dualpha, 2011. 628 p. 21 cm. (Collection Patrimoine des lettres). ISBN 9782353742066: EUR 41

An RREA Original Review by Sarah B. Sussman (Stanford University)

Algeria was under French control from 1830 until it achieved its independence after a violent war lasting from 1954 to1962. Because of Algeria’s special relationship to France, the Algerian War was a civil war, with the French government and army struggling with Algerian revolutionary movements fighting for independence and with a vocal European settler community set on maintaining the country as French. The Algerian War ended 50 years ago, yet scholarly and popular fascination with this event is more active than ever.

Maurice Sarazin, the author of this bibliography of works about the Algerian War, was a librarian at the Bibliothe`que nationale d’Alge´rie [National Library of Algeria] (today the Maktabah al-Wat?ani¯yah al-Jaza¯’iri¯yah) in Algiers from 1957 until the end of the war. His brief introductory notes explain that this bibliography attempts to contain an exhaustive list of works published in French from the beginning of the war until 2009. It includes 3,511 scholarly works, journalistic accounts, memoirs, and government documents. Some novels and literary representations that provide contextual insights into the Algerian War are present. More popular and purely fictional literary accounts are excluded; other bibliographic sources are suggested for these materials. Monographs, special periodical issues, and articles in collected volumes are included, yet individual periodical articles are not. When applicable, information about later editions and reprints is mentioned in the entry for the original edition. Sarazin has also chosen to include selected materials from Algerian publishing houses and printers that were published during the war and are notable for their representation of the local context. He states that almost all references have been checked against citations in the catalog of the Bibliothèque nationale de France [National Library of France], or BnF.

There is a current of thought that writing and public discussion of the Algerian War was suppressed, both during and after the war, until an uptick in interest in the late 1990s. Sarazin refutes this claim, citing earlier bibliographical studies of the war, such as Benjamin Stora’s Le Dictionnaire de la Guerre d’Algérie [Dictionary of the Algerian War] (Paris, 1996), as well as others by Jean-Louis Girard and Abderahmen Moumen. He also highlights the historian Guy Pervillé’s informative Web site of his own research articles, reviews, and other scholarly materials, Pour une histoire de la Guerre d’Algérie [For a History of the Algerian War]. Sarazin’s bibliography does not try to replace these valuable works, but rather it complements them and cites them when possible.

The heart of this bibliography is the alphabetical listing of the materials. Each reference has an alphanumeric key; for example, citations whose main entries begin with the letter A are listed “A1,” “A2,” etc. This practice allows each work to be mentioned only once but multiple authors to be cited. As needed, Sarazin sends the user to other references with a “see” or “see also” note.

The citations themselves vary widely in terms of length and content. Many of them are solely citations: reference number, author, title, publication information, page count, and size. Authors’ dates are sometimes given, presumably from their BnF record. Series information is included when applicable. Information about the existence of a bibliography, appendix, or other apparatus is offered when available. Brief biographical sketches about the author may be added, as may a short summary of contents, either in a narrative form or as a list of chapter titles. Chapter titles are included for most volumes of collected articles. This input is quite helpful, especially for the personal memoirs, as the titles may be impressionistic and because the researcher may benefit from knowing the perspective or personal context of a work’s author.

There are some additional features that are extremely useful for scholars. First, Sarazin has included citations for reviews of works that also appear in Benjamin Stora’s Dictionnaire de la Guerre d’Algérie, so scholars can use the two works in conjunction with one another. Several other review sources are similarly incorporated into the bibliography, including the works of Guy Pervillé, cited above, as well as the work by Evelyne Lever and Bernard Droz, Histoire de la Guerre d’Algérie 1954-1962 (Paris, 1982). In some cases, extracts from the reviews are included, but for the most part only citation information is offered. Occasionally, page numbers are not included in the review citations, and the format of the review information is inconsistent. Despite these criticisms, this extra information in itself is quite useful and welcome.

The main body of the work is followed by two indexes. The first is a subject and author index. The terms included are quite specific, although there are significant numbers of titles indexed under the key terms of “Algérie” and “Guerre d’Algérie” in indented subcategories of which the user will need to be aware. The second index is chronological, by date of publication. This listing illustrates trends in popular and scholarly interest in the Algerian War since the beginning of the event itself. It is a compelling tool, showing that interest waned in the years immediately following the war but has been increasing since the late 1990s. The volume closes with an addendum of 52 works that were not included in the main bibliography. These works have their own index.

Overall, researchers doing work on all aspects of the Algerian War will welcome this reference source for its exhaustive nature, useful annotations, and easy-to-use format. Its main limitation is that it contains only French-language works; despite an extensive interest and publishing record, no comprehensive bibliography for English-language scholarship on the War currently exists. Some annotations are subjective, offering Sarazin’s opinions about the authors or their perspectives on the war. This element is not surprising, given the politically charged nature of the subject, and Sarazin recognizes this tension by explaining from the outset that the war had different names and meanings for different people. That said, the inclusiveness of Bibliographie de la Guerre d’Algérie makes it an essential tool for serious students of the Algerian War and a useful addition to libraries with research-level collections on 20th-century French history and French colonial history.

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Last update: November 2013 [RT]
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