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Why a Book About an Obscure Arab Hero?
Table of Contents
PART I From Marabout to Emir, 1808-1834
Chapter 1. A General in the Dock
Chapter 2. Lords of the Tent
Chapter 3. Unity and Complexity
Chapter 4. Arrival of the Infidel
Chapter 5. The Obedient Son
Chapter 6. France's New Ally
PART II Good Will, Bad Will, 1834-1847
Chapter 7. Building an Islamic Nation
Chapter 8. The Wheel Turns
Chapter 9. "He Looked like Jesus Christ"
Chapter 10. An Uneasy Peace
Chapter 11. The Emir's Frenchman
Chapter 12. Jihad
Chapter 13. Total War
Chapter 14. Trail of Tears
Chapter 15. Mischief Makers
Chapter 16. Men of Honor
PART III Exile and Honors, 1848-1883
Chapter 17. Betrayal
Chapter 18. "The View Is Magnificent"
Chapter 19. A Prison Fit for a King
Chapter 20. Liberation
Chapter 21. The Emir's Letter
Chapter 22. The Road to Damascus
Chapter 23. All for One
Chapter 24. Distinguished Misfits
Practicing its own brand of gunboat diplomacy, France occupied Algiers in 1830 with a force of 30,000 soldiers. Greeted at first as liberators by Arabs unhappy with decadent Turkish rule, the ignorance, arrogance, and broken promises by the French occupiers soon alienated the population. Two years later, tribes in the province of Oran elected Abd el-Kader's aged and reluctant marabout father, Muhi al-Din, to lead a jihad against the intruders. His first act was to abdicate in favor of his twenty-four year old son.
By 1832, Abd el-Kader's bravery in battle, intellectual mettle and religious piety had demonstrated that he was prepared for the role his father unexpectedly cast upon him. As a youth, Abd el-Kader excelled at everything he did. Muhi al-Din believed his son was a prodigy with a divine destiny that required a thorough grounding in Islamic law, as well in mathematics, philosophy, rhetoric and medicine. Horsemanship and hunting were essential for building character, especially courage and patience. To expose Abd el-Kader to the world's diversity and complexity, Muhi al-Din took him on a two-year pilgrimage, stopping in Alexandria, Cairo, Mecca, Damascus and Baghdad. Abd el-Kader's first loves were prayer and study, yet he was also prepared for military combat.
|Battle of Machta, 1835|
A resilient and divinely inspired Abd el-Kader won the begrudging respect of his French adversaries and the admiration of English onlookers during his fifteen-year struggle. His best weapons were his diplomatic astuteness, his desert hardened horses and his Jewish intelligence network that kept him aware of political attitudes in France toward its poorly conceived African adventure.
Faced with French determination and scorched earth tactics against tribes supporting him, Abd el-Kader decided further resistance would cause only futile suffering. In December 1847, he negotiated a truce with veteran General Lamoricière. The terms: the general's written word, confirmed by the governor general of Algeria (King Louis-Philippe's son), agreeing to send him into Middle Eastern exile in return for his promise to never return to Algeria.