From the archives of the British War Museum, a complete history of the most exciting and brutal fighting force in the world.
The French Foreign Legion has established a reputation as the most formidable of military forces. Created as a means of protecting French interests abroad, the legion spearheaded French colonialism in North Africa during the nineteenth century. Accepting volunteers from all parts of the world, the legion acquired an aura of mystery—and a less than enviable reputation for brutality within its ranks. Attracting recruits from all over the world, these new soldiers explain in their own words why they submitted themselves to such brutal training.Voices of the Foreign Legion looks at how the legion selects its recruits, where they come from, and why they seek a life of incredible hardship and danger. It also analyzes the legion’s strict attitude toward discipline, questions why desertion is a perennial problem, and assesses the legion’s military achievements since its formation in 1831. Its scope ranges from the conquest of the colonies in Africa and the Far East, through the horrors of the two World Wars, to the bitter but ultimately hopeless battles to maintain France’s imperial possessions.
©2010 Adrian D. Gilbert (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This was a decent audiobook; it's well done and will keep you interested.
Gilbert, a former Legionaire himself, really shines in talking about how one joins the Legion, the brutal training, and the unit's unique traditions and outlook.
The author does a great job of including first hand accounts of life and war in the Legion, dating back to the 19th century.
The latter part of the book, the Legion's wars and battles, is a hit and miss affair. It seems like Gilbert really rushed to cover everything. The Legion's role in Algeria (1954-1962) was especially abridged; fortunately Alistair Horne's ridculously good "A Savage War of Peace" is available here on audible as well.
I would love to see this book with a more detailed second half, and an updated one that includes the Legion's role in Afghanistan, and its return to North Africa in the Mali operation that is ongoing as I type this.
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