Abstract

The so-called Battle of Algiers (1956–1957) was a pivotal event in the history of French decolonization and was controversial because it involved brutality and the use of torture. The tactical success of the French Army in the battle has been credited to the theory of guerre révolutionnaire, which evolved in French military thinking after the army's debacle in Indochina. The theory situated anti-colonial insurgencies within the Cold War struggle of Western values against Communism. This article reevaluates earlier claims about the theory's efficacy and shows that ultimately the methods used by the French during the Battle of Algiers can be explained more by factors related to the contingent historical experiences of the French army than by the influence of guerre révolutionnaire.

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