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Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter

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This gripping insider’s account chronicles how and why a young woman in 1950s Algiers joined the armed wing of Algeria’s national liberation movement to combat her country’s French occupiers. When the movement’s leaders turned to Drif and her female colleagues to conduct attacks in retaliation for French aggression against the local population, they leapt at the chance. Th This gripping insider’s account chronicles how and why a young woman in 1950s Algiers joined the armed wing of Algeria’s national liberation movement to combat her country’s French occupiers. When the movement’s leaders turned to Drif and her female colleagues to conduct attacks in retaliation for French aggression against the local population, they leapt at the chance. Their actions were later portrayed in Gillo Pontecorvo’s famed film The Battle of Algiers. When first published in French in 2013, this intimate memoir was met with great acclaim and no small amount of controversy. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand not only the anti-colonial struggles of the 20th century and their relevance today, but also the specific challenges that women often confronted (and overcame) in those movements.


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This gripping insider’s account chronicles how and why a young woman in 1950s Algiers joined the armed wing of Algeria’s national liberation movement to combat her country’s French occupiers. When the movement’s leaders turned to Drif and her female colleagues to conduct attacks in retaliation for French aggression against the local population, they leapt at the chance. Th This gripping insider’s account chronicles how and why a young woman in 1950s Algiers joined the armed wing of Algeria’s national liberation movement to combat her country’s French occupiers. When the movement’s leaders turned to Drif and her female colleagues to conduct attacks in retaliation for French aggression against the local population, they leapt at the chance. Their actions were later portrayed in Gillo Pontecorvo’s famed film The Battle of Algiers. When first published in French in 2013, this intimate memoir was met with great acclaim and no small amount of controversy. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand not only the anti-colonial struggles of the 20th century and their relevance today, but also the specific challenges that women often confronted (and overcame) in those movements.

30 review for Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    Zahra a native of Algeria lived on the wrong side of town. She and her friends learned about guns and explosives. Zahra dressed in her finest when she left a bomb at the Milk Cafe. Being a feminist she would be less suspect. Algeria wanted their freedom form France. Zahra was right in the middle; served as a courier. It is the story of her journey and eight year struggle; during the Battle of Algeria and her testimony to the youth. I won this Free book from Goodreads First-Reads.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    A powerful memoir, straight forward, gripping. Drif's story raises so many issues of gender, torture, the morality of colonial resistance, the immorality of colonial domination, the preservation and perpetuation of national narratives, and so much more. She brings to life the stories and personalities of some of the most important and elusive figures of the resistance movement in Algeria. She also brings to life beautiful details about the people and life within the Casbah as well as their incre A powerful memoir, straight forward, gripping. Drif's story raises so many issues of gender, torture, the morality of colonial resistance, the immorality of colonial domination, the preservation and perpetuation of national narratives, and so much more. She brings to life the stories and personalities of some of the most important and elusive figures of the resistance movement in Algeria. She also brings to life beautiful details about the people and life within the Casbah as well as their incredible struggles to live through the daily humiliations of occupation and the cruelty of the French war against Algerian independence.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. إنها قصة مؤثرة لقد أبدعت

  4. 5 out of 5

    m7star

    Zohra Drif, an Algerian freedom fighter, shares her story in this book, from the beginnings of her education to her arrest along with one of the leaders of the FLN. Drif's memoir is a compelling read, although perhaps not for the faint of heart- there are numerous accounts of torture, including some very graphic details, all of which are essential to the narrative. Perhaps obviously, this book is written from an Algerian perspective, with a focus on events that occurred within Algiers itself. It' Zohra Drif, an Algerian freedom fighter, shares her story in this book, from the beginnings of her education to her arrest along with one of the leaders of the FLN. Drif's memoir is a compelling read, although perhaps not for the faint of heart- there are numerous accounts of torture, including some very graphic details, all of which are essential to the narrative. Perhaps obviously, this book is written from an Algerian perspective, with a focus on events that occurred within Algiers itself. It's a very useful text for analyzing the situation on the ground as preserved in memory, but may be best supplemented with additional overviews of the relationship between Algeria and France, especially for those audiences that have relatively little preexisting background information.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    This book gives an inside account of what it was like to be a member of the revolutionary movement fighting against well over a century of French settler colonialism in Algeria. Zohra is an upper class Algerian who found herself being one of very few Algerians in her school due to her class status. There, she meets Samia. Together they seek out FLN and join the armed struggle against the French military apparatus. I learned a lot about the cruelty of the French in Algeria, and also the resistanc This book gives an inside account of what it was like to be a member of the revolutionary movement fighting against well over a century of French settler colonialism in Algeria. Zohra is an upper class Algerian who found herself being one of very few Algerians in her school due to her class status. There, she meets Samia. Together they seek out FLN and join the armed struggle against the French military apparatus. I learned a lot about the cruelty of the French in Algeria, and also the resistance to it. Most notable to me is the solidarity amongst Algerians in the Casbah & the FLN fighters, and the many ways they supported each other throughout the revolution despite various divide and conquer tactics employed by the French government. Highly recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    This is an incredible memoir of an absolutely devastating period of time. Drif's intimate knowledge and personal experience with the events and people involved in the liberation of Algeria make this account incredibly fascinating, and her connections between the episodes in the revolution and their longstanding legacy are especially illuminating. It is challenging and inspiring - the adrenaline, hopelessness, and optimism is visceral. I only wish the following memoir was already published - the This is an incredible memoir of an absolutely devastating period of time. Drif's intimate knowledge and personal experience with the events and people involved in the liberation of Algeria make this account incredibly fascinating, and her connections between the episodes in the revolution and their longstanding legacy are especially illuminating. It is challenging and inspiring - the adrenaline, hopelessness, and optimism is visceral. I only wish the following memoir was already published - the story of Algerian liberation is so massive that even this eloquent remembrance captures only some of the whole story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amani

    صديقي وصّاني على هالكتاب بعد ماعبّرت عن إني ما أعرف شي عن المغرب العربي واستعرته منه.. كانت صدفة مهمة إني استوعبت إن من جد الجزائر وفلسطين نفس القضية ونفس تفاصيل المعاناة ويمكن حتى نفس التحرير + سيرة زهرة ظريف تنافس سيرة مالكوم اكس من ناحية نضال واللي يميزها إنها من عدسة نسوية بعد.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is an incredible inside account of the life of Zohra Drif. Although it took her 60 years to write it, the details and enjoyment of the descriptions make it feel like she is talking about a very recent past. It is wonderful when a book makes the (mostly 1954-1957) recent past come alive!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ramzey

    Great fucking Book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy Guo

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Nash

  12. 4 out of 5

    linzi

  13. 4 out of 5

    JWB Just World Books

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dana El

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Kern

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gina Victoria

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cassian

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karin Lowen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Mackin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dina

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Farrand

  23. 5 out of 5

    safiyareads

  24. 4 out of 5

    Khushi Riona

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Damek

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meriem

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hunter

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