North Africa

On The Shores of Tripoli

April 10, 2015

In my seventh grade music class, we regularly sang the anthems of the various branches of the United States’ armed services.*  Three days a week, the caissons rolled, bones sank to Davy Jones, planes sailed into the wild blue yonder, and the Marines fought from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.  It […]

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The End of French Algeria

February 21, 2015

The Algerian Revolution, which lasted from 1954 to 1962, was one of the bloodiest of the anti-colonial wars that broke out in Asia and Africa after the end of World War II. * Algerian resistance against colonial rule in Algeria was nothing new. Abd al-Qadir fought against French expansion in North Africa for fifteen years […]

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Abandoning the Algerian Model

February 8, 2015

Tunisia and Morocco came under French control much later than Algeria, in 1883 and 1912 respectively, as part of the great “scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century.* From the French perspective, the imperial experience in Tunisia and Morocco was very different than that in Algeria.** In both states, French investors became […]

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By Sword and Plow: French Settlement in Algeria

January 27, 2015

The conquest of Algeria in 1830 was the beginning of France’s second period of imperial expansion. * Like many colonial wars, the conquest became a sinkhole, eating armed forces and resources that many believed could better be used back home in France, which was in political turmoil following the July Revolution. (You could argue that […]

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Abd al-Qadir Fights Back

January 20, 2015

  If the French hadn’t invaded Algeria in 1830, Algerian emir Abd al-Qadir would probably have been content to follow his grandfather and father as the spiritual leader of the Qadiriyah Sufi order. In the fall of 1832, when the French began to expand their control into the Algerian interior, the Arab tribes of Oran […]

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The Incident of the Flyswatter

January 13, 2015

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend and regular reader of History in the Margins suggesting I write a post about the long, complex, and often difficult relationship between France and its Muslim citizens, hoping it would give her/you a context for the Charlie Hebdo killings and their aftermath. I will admit that I […]

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Pirates of the…Mediterranean?

October 24, 2014

In response to my recent post on nineteenth century Chinese pirate Cheng I Sao, Margins reader Davide reminded me of another highly successful pirate* and then made the provocative comment that the subject of piracy in the Mediterranean is very interesting and often  neglected by historians. Challenge accepted. It’s a big question, but let’s take […]

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Re-Run: Cowboys and Indians, North African Style

March 4, 2014

Unlikely though it seems, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the French Foreign Legion over the last week. I bet most of you have a few stock images of the Foreign Legion in your heads: men fleeing from their past into the desert and anonymity, absinthe, burning sands and blazing sun, those funny […]

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Re-Run: Muslim Spain–The Soundtrack

February 19, 2014

The perversity of the universe being what it is, the final stages of renovating our new-old house and finishing my book proposal have collided.  Instead of driving myself mad trying to write blog posts or letting History in the Margins go blank for a few weeks, I decided to run some of my favorite posts […]

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Ibn Who?

October 9, 2012

If you spend any time studying history in a serious way–whether in school and/or as a dedicated history nerd–you end up with a list in your head of Great Historians of the Past: Herodotus*, Thucydides, Tacitus, the Venerable Bede, Gibbon, Macaulay, Prescott. Even after their historical works were revised or even rejected by later scholars**, […]

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