Legion Pulp: A Head in the Game

Not sure where the time goes nowadays.  I turn my back for a second and its the 15th of the month again.  So, here is the pulp fiction story for November, another classic tale by Georges Surdez.  This one features the Foreign Legion in a supporting role as an erstwhile misunderstood villain.  It appeared in the August 1938 issue of Adventure.

The setting is the war torn hills of Morocco as the French press their offensive against recalcitrant Chleuh tribesmen.  Lieutenant Cauvain is an officer in a front-line battalion of Senegalese Tirailleurs who runs afoul of the Legion’s ingrained habit of committing petty theft.  It begins with a missing mule, evolves into elaborate night forays of pilferage and eventually escalates into a bitter feud and inevitable violence between the 7th Company of the Legion and Cauvain’s Company of Africans.  Chauvain is at a loss for how to redeem his own honor and restore the pride of his soldiers.  The answer comes when a impetuous Lieutenant of the Foreign Legion loses his head.   It’s a great story which runs for 26 pages.

A Head for the Game

NOTE:  A Head for the Game was written in 1938, which was a very non-politically correct time for popular literature.  If you read the story you will discover that Surdez does a good job, better than most writers of the time, in giving credit to the fighting abilities of French African troops.  He clearly did some research on Western Africa.  Still, there are some people out there who are bound (almost obliged in their minds) to take great offense over the illustrations and certain parts of the story and will call it “racist”.  If so I can only shake my head at their utter lack of historical perspective and objectivity.

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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