In the wake of the Paris attacks I found myself wanting to learn more about the history of France and the Arab world.
But where do you start?
In the 1800s France turned its attention to North Africa and began to expand their empire in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The French believed they were bringing democracy and a better way of life to the African people, but in reality they exploited their colonies for its resources, and at the expense of the local population.
We learn about the conquest of Algeria and France’s use of violence which ensured their dominance of the country for more than a century. As Europeans or colons arrived in droves they began to establish their own communities. Suddenly the Algerians found themselves dispossessed of their land, becoming second class citizens.
Following the end of the Second World War, France’s stranglehold over its colonies began to weaken. This presented an opportunity to nationalist movements as well as terrorist organizations to mobilize and strike back against their colonial masters.
As we navigate through France’s colonial history, the author bridges the past to the present.
Once these countries achieved independence many of its citizens immigrated to France in hopes of a better life. Unfortunately this has been difficult to achieve, as the majority of these immigrants settled in suburbs and banlieues where joblessness and poverty are rampant. Hussey explores how these conditions have led Muslims to feel alienated by the state. As this generation struggles to find its place in French society the notion of revenge becomes more enticing.
This novel is entertaining and important as it discusses current issues. By discussing history and connecting it to the present this book gives a clear picture of France’s struggles.