Alistair Horne, War Historian and Onetime British Spy, Dies at 91Historians in the News
Alistair Horne, a British historian whose prizewinning works included a gripping account of the battle of Verdun and a keen analysis of the French-Algerian war that President George W. Bush read closely for insights into the American war in Iraq, died on Thursday at his home in Turville, Buckinghamshire, England. He was 91.
The death was confirmed by Dr. Sigurd Berven, a son-in-law.
Mr. Horne, a onetime foreign correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and a spy for MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, was known for his ability to translate complex source material into vivid narratives, filled with sharp-edged portraits and memorable anecdotes. He was best known for a trilogy that recounted the decades-long conflict between France and Germany, beginning with the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71.
The first, “The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916,” published in 1962, won the Hawthornden Prize a year later. It was followed by “The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune, 1870-71” (1965) and “To Lose a Battle: France 1940” (1969), on the collapse of the French Army at the beginning of World War II.
His history of the Algerian struggle for independence, “A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962” (1977), written at the suggestion of Harold Macmillan, the former British prime minister, won the Wolfson Prize and critical acclaim for its evenhanded treatment of a politically charged conflict
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