Unique among the world's fighting forces, the Legion remains one of its most mysterious, as well. Open to volunteers from around the world (men from some 150 countries fill 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 only 10 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, Nick Valldejuli gives an insider's perspective on what it means - and what it takes - to be a Légionnaire.
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.
Nicholas J. Valldejuli was born in England and raised in New York. Inspired by the stories of the unit's exploits, he joined the French Foreign Legion in 1986, serving until his honorable medical discharge in 1988. A graduate of Hackley School (New York), Kenyon College (Ohio), and Lund University (Sweden), Valldejuli taught English and history in private and Catholic schools for many years. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the mystique behind this famous band of warriors.
In this riveting account of his time in the French Foreign Legion, Nicholas Valldejuli introduces us to the men who make up the world’s most famous fighting force.
More than any other book on the Legion, this fascinating and engaging book will take the reader to the places and introduce the men who make the Legion an army unlike any in the world.
For anyone (and, in particular, any American) who has ever wondered or fantasized about what it would be like to join the famed French Foreign Legion this is the book to read…Valldejuli knows of what he speaks. His book illuminates some of the dark mystique that surrounds the Legion…Rich in anecdote and respect for the Legion’s traditions.