The French Foreign Legion has established a reputation as the most formidable of 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 brutality within its ranks. "Voices of the Foreign Legion" looks at how the Legion selects its recruits, where they come from and why they seek a life of hardship and danger. It also analyses the Legion's 'robust' attitude to discipline, questions why desertion is a perennial problem and assesses the Legion's military achievements since its formation in 1831. This is the real story of the Legion, featuring first-hand 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 battles to maintain France's imperial possessions. The story is then brought fully up to date with accounts and anecdotes from those foreign legionnaires who continue to fight for French interests around the globe.
Adrian Gilbert is a writer and editorial consultant specialising in military and historical subjects. He has contributed to several military TV documentaries and written for a variety of publications including The Good Book Guide, Gramophone, Time Out and The Guardian.