- 99,00 kr
The French Foreign Legion has built a reputation as one of the world’s most formidable and colorful military institutions. Established as a means of absorbing foreign troublemakers, 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 extreme brutality within its ranks.
Voices of the Foreign Legion explores how the Legion selects its recruits, their native lands, and why these warriors seek a life full of hardship and danger. It analyzes the Legion’s brutal attitude toward discipline, questions why desertion has been a perennial problem, and assesses the Legion’s remarkable military achievements since its formation in the year 1831. This is the real story of the Legion, featuring firsthand accounts from the men who have fought in its ranks. 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, battle to maintain France’s far-flung imperial possessions. The story is brought fully up-to-date with accounts and anecdotes from those contemporary foreign legionnaires who continue to fight for French interests around the globe.
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Military historian Gilbert (Sniper: The Skills, the Weapons, and the Experiences) focuses on the French Foreign Legion, beginning with its 1831 formation by royal decree as an infantry force for overseas service. Gilbert gained access to the Imperial War Museum sound archive along with permission to use material from that key source. The book consists of excerpts from these and other firsthand accounts skillfully linked to vivify his informative and insightful interpolations. He sets the scenes with a vivid backdrop, letting the first-person passages take center stage. The reader peruses the nightmarish horrors of the battlefields but also the daily life of barracks, barrooms, and brothels, such as the conga s ("young girls") in 1950s Indochina. One soldier wrote: "Cheerful and hardworking, they knew, biblically, very nearly everyone in the battalion and gave not one damn for rank." The history traces the legion through colonial and postcolonial eras, through both world wars, Vietnam, Algeria, Bosnia, and the Congo. These vibrant legionnaire voices are agonized, bitter, brutal, fearful, and haunting, but some speak with pride and praise ("It's a soldier's dream"), recalling the legion as a "life-changing" experience. Maps.