Alistair Horne, War Historian and Onetime British Spy, Dies at 91

“Occasionally an epic subject encounters a fine historian,” the historian Raymond Carr wrote in the British magazine The New Statesman. “This was the case with the Algerian war and Mr. Horne. The result is a book of compelling power, written with compassion and understanding.”

Mr. Macmillan, impressed, approached Mr. Horne to write his official biography. It was published in two volumes in 1989 as “Harold Macmillan, Politician” in Britain and “Harold Macmillan” in the United States.

While he was in Washington researching American source material for the Macmillan biography, Mr. Horne became acquainted with Henry A. Kissinger, to whom he later presented a reissue of “A Savage War of Peace,” published in 2006 by The New York Review of Books with a new preface by the author. Mr. Kissinger requested that a copy be sent to the White House.

In a “60 Minutes” interview a few months later, President Bush mentioned that he was reading the book with great interest. Soon after, he invited Mr. Horne to visit him at the White House, and in May 2007 a meeting took place.

“He questioned me closely about the parallels between Iraq and Algeria,” Mr. Horne wrote in The Daily Telegraph in 2007. “It was clear that he had read attentively what I had written.”

In a later article about the meeting, in The Independent, Mr. Horne wrote: “I was questioned intently on how de Gaulle got out of Algeria; I had to reply, ‘Mr. President, very badly; he lost his shirt.’ Though it was clearly a disappointing response, Mr. Bush replied, with emphasis: ‘Well, we’re not going to get out of Iraq like that.’”

Alistair Allan Horne was born on Nov. 9, 1925, in London. His mother, the former Auriol Hay-Drummond, died when he was 4 after her car slid off a Belgian road into a river, where she drowned.


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