Among the world’s elite fighting units, the French Foreign Legion remains one of the most unique and most mysterious. Open to volunteers from around the world (men from some 140 countries have filled its ranks), the Legion boasts an illustrious and exciting military history stretching from Europe to Africa and Latin America, from Vietnam and Algeria to Afghanistan; features a notoriously difficult selection and training process, accepting approximately 2 percent of applicants; and has traditionally required soldiers to enlist under assumed names. Soldiers swear allegiance not to France, but to the Legion, which has been romanticized in literature, song, and action movies as a place for men to prove their mettle or start their lives over. In this colorful, highly readable book, a blend of firsthand experience and interviews with former legionnaires, N. J. Valldejuli gives an insider’s perspective on what it means—and what it takes—to be a legionnaire.
Valldejuli, an English-born American who spent two years in the Legion, lifts the veil on who legionnaires are, what they do, where they serve, why they joined, and why they’re willing to die for France, which for most is a foreign country. Stories move from Algeria in the 1960s and the Balkans in the 1990s to more recent French operations in Afghanistan and former colonies in Africa. Drawing on his own experiences as well as those of members from various countries over the past fifty years (including several girlfriends of soldiers), his stories highlight the Legion’s intense camaraderie and its members’ fierce loyalty to this unique unit, in addition to the extreme mental and physical demands made of them, and the sacrifices of their families back home.
Buy Inside the French Foreign Legion: Adventures with the World's Most Famous Fighting Force by N. J. Valldejuli from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, BooksDirect.