Well, Happy Halloween everyone, that would have been yesterday the 31st for those who might be unfamiliar with this holiday. I searched my archives and the web for hours last week but I couldn’t find a supernatural or scary story featuring the Foreign Legion so this post is just the usual monthly wrap up of odds and ends relating to new books.
With the weather getting colder it is time to bulk up your reading list as well as your Christmas gift list. Here are several new books that crossed my radar recently.
1. Osprey’s French Foreign Legion 1831–71 (Men-at-Arms). This new book from Osprey, written by Martin Windrow, will be released on 15 Dec 2016. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon. (Note: There appears to be two covers floating around–one for Kindle and another for the hard copy.)
From the promo…“Concluding his bestselling series on the French Foreign Legion, Martin Windrow explores the formation and development of the Legion during its ‘first generation’. Raised in 1831, the Legion’s formative years would see it fight continuous and savage campaigns in Algeria, aid the Spanish government in the Carlist War, join the British in the Crimean campaign and fight alongside the Swiss in the bloody battles of Magenta and Solferino. With the ever-changing combat environments they found themselves in, the Legion had to constantly adapt in order to survive.
Taking advantage of the latest research, this lavishly illustrated study explores the evolution of the uniforms and kit of the French Foreign Legion, from their early campaigns in Algeria through to their iconic Battle of Camerone in Mexico and their role in the Franco-Prussian war.” Contents:
Introduction – France and Algeria in 1831
Chronology of organization
The first campaigns, Algeria 1832-35
The Crimean War, 1854-56
The Mexican Adventure, 1863-67
The Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71; the Paris Commune, 1871
Plate commentaries – uniform history
2. By Blood Spilt – Steele’s Death March. This book is the third installment of this series written by former 2REP legionnaire Ricky Balona. This one is set in Indochina during the last years of WWII. “Sergeant Steele and the 5 Regiment Etrangere d’Infanterie are caught up in the treacherous Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina. Steele and the Legionnaires must fight their way to safety over more than one thousand miles of mountainous terrain and thick jungle relentlessly pursued by the Japanese and the brotherhood led by Steele’s sworn enemy, Jean.” This eBook is free for now but you can also get the whole Steele Trilogy for #5.00 from Amazon (for Kindle) here.
3. At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard. Another book that has not been released yet (you have to wait until April 2017). From the Amazon description…
“An aura of mystery, romance, and danger surrounds the French Foreign Legion, the all-volunteer corps of the French Army, founded in 1831. Famous for its physically grueling training in harsh climates, the legion fought in French wars from Mexico to Madagascar, Southeast Asia to North Africa. To this day, despite its reputation for being assigned the riskiest missions in the roughest terrain, the mystique of the legion continues to attract men from every corner of the world.
In At the Edge of the World, historian Jean-Vincent Blanchard follows the legion’s rise to fame during the nineteenth century–focusing on its campaigns in Indochina and especially in Africa–when the corps played a central role in expanding and protecting the French Empire. As France struggled to be a power capable of rivaling the British, the figure of the legionnaire–deadly, self-sacrificing, uncompromisingly efficient–came to represent the might and morale that would secure a greater, stronger nation.
Drawing from rare, archival memoirs and testimonies of legionnaires from the period and tracing the fascinating career of Hubert Lyautey, France’s first resident-general in Morocco and a hero to many a legionnaire, At the Edge of the World chronicles the Foreign Legion at the height of its renown, when the corps and its archetypically handsome, moody, and marginalized recruits became both the symbols of a triumphant colonialism and the stuff of legend.”
4. Siege at Dien Bien Phu Series. This six-book series chronicles the paths of Bix, an American farm boy, and Chau, a Vietnamese immigrant whose paths cross night in the deep south where Chau is saved from a bunch of rednecks by the timely arrival of Bix. Chau suggests Bix join the French Foreign Legion and fight for adventure and something more meaningful than his current state of affairs. HOWEVER, these same six books are also available as one volume called simply Siege at Dien Bien Phu. I’ve just started the first book and it is so-far pretty good. The author, Richard Baker, is a Vietnam veteran who has written other books on the Vietnam War to include Cao Bang.
5. Sauvage. I found these awesome illustrations at this website that featured an article on the French graphic novel called Sauvage: Les Damnés d’Oaxaca. The story is set in 1863 in Mexico and features the adventures of Foreign Legion lieutenant Félix Sauvage and these are some of the images used in the book. There are apparently other volumes in the Sauvage series, also drawn and written by Felix Maynet and Yann, with the titles being “Le spectre de Chapultepec” and “Dans les Griffes de Salm-Salm“.
6. The Centurians. This book is finally out in an affordable edition. The original paperbacks and hard copies are insanely expensive to purchase because of their rarity. (I’ve had both The Centurions and the sequel entitled The Praetorians in paperback but have not read them yet. One was found at a yard sale and the other was picked up at a book show for $5.00.)
“When The Centurions was first published in 1960, readers were riveted by the thrilling account of soldiers fighting for survival in hostile environments. They were equally transfixed by the chilling moral question the novel posed: how to fight when the “age of heroics is over.” As relevant today as it was half a century ago, The Centurions is a gripping military adventure, an extended symposium on waging war in a new global order, and an essential investigation of the ethics of counterinsurgency. Featuring a foreword by renowned military expert Robert D. Kaplan, this important wartime novel will again spark debate about controversial tactics in hot spots around the world.
7. Rendezvous with Death: The Americans Who Joined the Foreign Legion in 1914 to Fight for France and for Civilization. This 332 page book is available on Kindle as well as hard copy. I’m looking forward to reading this one because there were several books to come out on this subject during the Great War and shortly after that captured my interest.
“Before America joined World War I, a small group of Americans volunteered for the French Foreign Legion to help defeat the Central Powers. Historian David Hanna profiles seven of these volunteers: a poet, an artist, a boxer, a stunt pilot, a college student, a veteran of the Spanish American War, and an advertising executive. All seven men were united in courage; and some, like poet Alan Seeger, paid the ultimate sacrifice.”