Michèle de Bussière, Cécile Méadel and Caroline Ulmann-Mauriat (Eds.), Radios et télévisions au temps des "événements d'Algérie" 1954-1962, (L'Harmattan, Collection Communication et Civilisation, 1999), pp. 298, ISBN 2-7384-7895-6.
This is a fascinating compilation of essays analysing different aspects of the audiovisual media during France's "savage War of Peace" in Algeria in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Most of the contributions come from a conference organised by the Comité d'histoire de la radio, the Comité d'histoire de la télévision and the Groupe d'études historiques sur la radio-télévision in June 1997.
The coverage is incredibly detailed, with over twenty aspects of programming, journalism, politics and propaganda being examined by different contributors. The Preface (by Jean-Noel Jeanneney) and Introduction (Bussière, Méadel, Ulmann-Mauriat) provide interesting academic and historical context. Thus Jeanneney reminds the reader that this work does not pretend to supply a finished synthesis of research on the media during the Algerian War, but rather to present a mosaic of studies, amongst or from which a certain number of general conclusions can be drawn, concerning for example the methodologies to be employed in studying the mass of material surviving from the period 1954-62, the influence of technical advances on the content of radio and TV programmes, and most generall of all, the contribution of the media to the overall evolution of events. Bussière, Méadel and Ulmann-Mauriat remind us that contemporary history has the advantage (and difficulty) of drawing on the memories of participants in events (as does Radios et télévisions). They explain that the use of the euphemism "événements d'Algérie" in the title is intended to reflect the pusillanimous terminology of the governments of the time in referring to the Algerian War and situate the period in terms of the other major events in national and international politics. All in all, a stimulating and invaluable source of detail, comment and matter for further reflection.
Hugh Dauncey (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)