Elsa Marston
children's author

Fiction, young adult
An adventure in ancient Egypt
Poetry
poems inspired by animals depicted in Southwestern rock art
history, political science
Nonfiction
a look at the variety of women's lives in the Middle East and North Africa
History
Stories in Y-A collections
in FIRST CROSSING AND OTHER STORIES OF IMMIGRANT TEENS
in MEMORIES OF SUN: STORIES OF AFRICA AND AMERICA (2004)
in SOUL SEARCHING: THIRTEEN STORIES ABOUT FAITH AND BELIEF

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THE COMPASSIONATE WARRIOR: ABD EL-KADER OF ALGERIA


In 19th-century Europe and America, everyone was talking about a scholarly, devout Muslim who had became an astonishing man of action--and an international celebrity. Abd el-Kader first attracted attention as the leader of resistance to the French conquest of Algeria in the 1830s. A young man, handsome and dashing, he mobilized the Algerian tribes and fought a guerilla war for fifteen years against the vastly superior French army. Later, exiled to Damascus, he and his followers saved the lives of many thousands of local Christians during an outbreak of bloody rioting in 1860. He became one of the first interfaith bridge-builders of modern times, not just for his compassion but for actively pursuing dialogue and seeking common ground for all religions. At the same time, he was fascinated by technology--and even had a hand in the construction of that great connector, the Suez Canal!

Today, after decades in the shadows of history, Abd el-Kader is coming back into the spotlight he deserves. My biography for teens (and adults) not only tells his story but sets that amazing life in the political and social turmoil of his times. I've known about Abd el-Kader for many years, since my graduate-student research on Algeria. Getting to know him better by writing his story--and hopefully bringing him to life in ways that will resonate with young readers today--has been a privilege.

THE COMPASSIONATE WARRIOR is one of very few--if any--historical biographies for young people about famous Muslims whose faith was an essential framework for their actions. It's particularly suitable for discussion in the classroom, and also in interfaith groups for adults. Please see the website of the publisher--www.wisdomtalespress.com--for suggestions, guidelines, and discussion questions for using the book in educational settings. THE COMPASSIONATE WARRIOR is available from the publisher, from Amazon, Powells, and other online book services, and from your bookstore.

And for a while, there was more! Recently the story of Abd el-Kader was seriously considered as a major motion picture, with the notable filmmaker Charles Burnett as director, and Oliver Stone as executive producer (yes, Oliver Stone). I wish I could report that the cameras are rolling, but as a joint American, Algerian, and French project, there are complications and it seems to be making slow progress.. One thing is clear: Abd el-Kader's life makes a wonderfully dramatic, exciting, inspiring story, and sooner or later it's bound to reach the silver screen!