You can follow
Wisdom Tales Press on:

Facebook LogoPinterest Logo

Wisdom Tales Newsletter

Our periodic e-newsletters keep you up to date with our new books, special offers, etc. It is free, and easy to subscribe (or to unsubscribe):  just click on the secure button below.

Recent Videos on YouTube:

We have a playlist on the World Wisdom YouTube channel, featuring Crow tribe Sun Dance Chief and Medicine Man Thomas Yellowtail.

Click here to view and play any or all of the videos with Thomas Yellowtail, on the YouTube site.

Recent Honors

NYC Big Book Awards:

• Two Winner awards for:

The Clever Wife: A Kyrgyz Folktale

• Two Distinguished Favorite Awards for:

Little Bear: An Inuit Folktale

• Two Winner Awards for:

Zen and the Ten Oxherding Pictures

Wisdom Tales
is a member of:


Sharing the wisdom and beauty of cultures from around the world
Home > Teen Books > The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria

The purchasing function on this web site is currently in development, but should be ready soon. Until then, readers who would like to buy a book can click the button below to buy it on
Amazon Buy Button
View Sample Pages
Click on one of the
pdf icons below to see
sample pages in pdf
format in a new tab
or window
pdf iconpages 110-111
pdf iconpages: illustrations

The Compassionate Warrior:
Abd el-Kader of Algeria

author: Elsa Marston
foreword by: Barbara Petzen
Subject(s): Grade level(s) / Lexile:
Juvenile Non Fiction; Biography & Autobiography 8-10 / Lexile measure: 1160L
Format: Size / page count:
Paperback 6" × 9" / 184 pages
ISBN: Date available:


Available now

A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim saint … Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.

Elsa Marston is the author of over a dozen books of fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. She grew up in Boston, and from a young age was fascinated with the stories of ancient Egypt and the Middle East. She attended Harvard, the American University of Beirut, and Indiana University. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Special Offer

Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has become an important online site for readers. They say that they have about 10 million members who make recommendations on the books that they like and who often add shorts reviews of books they have read. An explanation of how it works can be found on the Goodreads “How It Works” web page. It is free to become a member, and members can form and join book clubs, or enjoy the many other features of interest to readers.

The offer below is from Goodreads, who run the book giveaway independently of Wisdom Tales Press. Please note that to enter the drawing for a free book, you will have to become a member of Goodreads. Use the links below for more information from their site. We hope that some of the visitors to our website will win one of the free books! Remember: this giveaway ends on June 3, 2013.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Compassionate Warrior coverThe Compassionate Warrior

by Elsa Marston

Giveaway ends June 3, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Reviews (hide/show)

“This clear and accessible biography will provide young readers with a valuable portrait of the Emir Abd el-Kader, who was so admired in 19th-century America. It is an admirable contribution to the understanding of the encounters between Muslims and Christians in the age of colonialism.”
Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide, with Select Translations and editor of Islamophobia in America
“Abdelkader's story of chivalry, compassion, and moral courage is more relevant than ever in today's shrinking world. Elsa Marston is to be congratulated for being the first to write a lively young adult biography of this warrior scholar and humanitarian, who today's youth and leaders could beneficially emulate.”
John W. Kiser, author of Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader
“Abd el-Kader, who fought for nearly two decades against occupation and oppression, refused the oppression of others, and believed that despite all our differences, we were brothers and sisters in humanity. His many battles, as a resistance fighter, as a prisoner, as an intellectual, and as a believer, embodied this simple and yet revolutionary idea. His message, in a world with more interaction than ever before, is not only still relevant, but key for us to preserve our ability to coexist and to work together for a better future. I think he is more needed today than in the 19th century.”
Majed Bamya, descendant of Abd el-Kader, diplomat and social activist
“At a time when negative stereotypes dominate the public perception of Islam and Muslims, our young people are sorely in need of positive role models who embody the highest ideals of what it means to live a life of dignity and purpose. Marston has filled that void with this gripping narrative of the life of Emir Abd el-Kader, a towering figure who inspires us all to a greater sense of humanity and justice no matter what religion we may practice.”
Robert F. Shedinger, Luther College, author of Was Jesus a Muslim?
“Abd el-Kader—a man of principle, Muslim spiritual leader, diplomat, Arab luminary—led a rich and engaged life, despite decades of exile. This Algerian hero’s story provides a fascinating window into the history of the nineteenth century, reflecting social and religious values and the tumultuous political times, and helping us make connections between France’s brutal colonial policies, the Algerians’ valiant resistance, and one leader’s dignified and powerful struggle for justice. Marston’s is an important contribution to youth literature, and will doubtless be a truly lasting one.”
Zeina Azzam, Georgetown University, Director of Educational Outreach, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
“The special merit of Marston’s very beautiful book is that the virtues and human qualities of Abd el-Kader play a central role in her story. In bringing this story to American youth, the author is offering them the chance to discover not only the values of mercy and peace within Islam, but also the life of a person who completely embodied those values. This book is not only a beautiful narrative that is based on solid documentation, but it is above all a useful book for our children who are going to inherit a world which is in urgent need of mercy and peace.”
Ahmed Bouyerdene, author of Emir Abd el-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam
“Award-winning author Elsa Marston’s books about the Middle East are often categorized as ‘juvenile fiction and non-fiction.’ However, The Compassionate Warrior, like most of her work, is a piece of solid scholarship, engagingly narrated, that will also have great appeal for adults. The Emir Abd el-Kader is an inspirational figure from Algerian history who deserves to be better known, and this exceptional book is a welcome contribution to that cause.”
Laurence Michalak, University of California, Berkeley
“Elsa Marston’s biography illuminates the extraordinary story of Emir Abd el-Kader. This 19th century hero was tireless in his efforts to protect innocent lives and the honor of Islam. His example is an inspiration for us all.”
—Jacqueline Jules, librarian and teacher, author of Sarah Laughs and Benjamin and the Silver Goblet
The Compassionate Warrior provides us with a rich opportunity to learn about the life and teachings of a prominent Muslim spiritual teacher who resisted French colonialism. Not being content with returning violence for violence, Emir Abd el-Kader also protected Syrian Christians at a later point in his life.… This volume is highly recommended for all who seek to learn about spiritual ways of responding to the traumas of the contemporary world.”
Omid Safi, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters
“In her engaging biography, the author shows well how Emir Abd el-Kader, head of a religious order and a fighter against colonial intrusions, preached tolerance and coexistence among communities, as was evident of his defense of the downtrodden during the exceptional Damascus riots of 1860. It is good of the author to bring to light the tolerance of a brave and compassionate hero who was needed then and is needed now as a model of leadership.”
Leila Fawaz, Tufts University, author of An Occasion for War: Mount Lebanon and Damascus in 1860
“In Elsa Marston’s story of Emir Abd el-Kader we learn about the character of a man who was regularly faced with difficult decisions. In his journey, we see that being a warrior does not always mean going to war, but can also involve simply fighting for what is right. We witness the heroism that lies in human nature, even during the horror of battle, and the compassion that makes heroism possible. There is no avoiding the strong sense of justice that permeates all of his actions, and that that commitment to justice is deeply informed by his faith and spirituality. The remarkable nature of his story only highlights the importance of being true to one’s convictions. His story is both awe-inspiring and inspirational.”
Hussein Rashid, Hofstra University, associate editor of Religion Dispatches magazine
“It is not very often that we readers and teachers come across a book that reveals so much history and biography in such an engaging and compelling way. Although the life of the great Algerian freedom fighter of the nineteenth century is the central focus of the book, the story also features French and North African colonial history, Christian-Muslim relations, and European politics. This book is an excellent vehicle for young people to explore a fast-moving story of heroic resistance to power, of nobility in times of war, of famous people and trying times, while all along learning—and probably enjoying—history, ethics, cross-cultural relations, and the inner workings of Muslim societies.”
Roger Gaetani, editor of Introduction to Sufism: The Inner Path of Islam and A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar, former teacher and developer of educational materials

Table of Contents (hide/show)

List of Illustrations


Foreword: Abd el-Kader: What Makes a Hero? by Barbara Petzen


Prologue: Algeria, December 1847

Chapter 1: Barbary Pirates and French Adventures

Chapter 2: An Unlikely Leader Emerges

Chapter 3: The Emir’s Strategy

Chapter 4: Abd el-Kader’s Vision for His People

Chapter 5: Frenchmen in the Emir’s Life

Chapter 6: War of Total Conquest

Chapter 7: The Devastating Tides of War

Chapter 8: Promises Kept and Broken

Chapter 9: The Imprisoned Celebrity

Chapter 10: Freedom and a New Life in Exile

Chapter 11: Madness in Damascus

Chapter 12: Abd el-Kader’s Vision for the World

Epilogue: Algeria After Abd el-Kader




Selected Bibliography

Biographical Notes


Home About Us Contact Us Press Page Privacy Notice FAQs
Copyright © 2012 World Wisdom, Inc.

horses illustration
illustration of a woman in a sari