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Books about the Foreign Legion


Chris Boonzaier
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Have been going through my boxes of books digging out the Legion related ones... there are fantastic ones and crap ones... so I thought I would reread them and post them here....

 

First one from 2004

Abenteuer Fremdenlegion - Der Kampf der Fremdenlegionäre in Vietnam und Algerien by Horst Schluckner

 

SchSchluckner.thumb.jpg.9b72cba15f654f0475d3a552a8d043a3.jpgluckner should have stuck to Beekeeping or Trainspotting or whatever his normal thing is.... terrible book, full of errors, made up stories and terrible writing.... as on my first attempt... I could not make it past the first 20 pages.... absolute garbage ... terrible book.... I hope for the Engelsdorfer Verlag that this was an error on their part and not standard.... avoid like the plague....

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Finished this one some time ago

 

Il Y A LA LEGION by Pierre Charton.

 

Charton served in the Legion fron 1928 to 1954 and was commander at Cao bang during the Indochine war, involved is the disaster on the RC4. The book does not touch on that and concentrates on his time before that... it is not an autobiography or history, but consists on an interesting series of disjointed chapters covering all kinds of areas and people he knew.... If you had sat down in a bar with him for every evening for a couple of weeks and he shot out random interesting Legion stories... this would be it.... Apparently when published in the 70s the Legion was not to happy.... Charton shoots from the hip and was not afraid to slap the occasional holy cow on the behind.... charton.thumb.jpg.fb42570ab8038fa78c2767fb9e60267c.jpg

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Der Herr sandte mie keinen Engel - God did not send me angels

 

Karel Lutz was born in 1926 so when he joined in 1965 he was already way over the average age. A businessman with a few white collar crimes he joined the legion at what for me must have been the worst possible time... in 1964 Indochine was over, Algeria abandoned.... Lutz landed up in a peacetime legion in Corsica. I can only imagine the legion between 1964 and the early 80s.... there were few operations, most of the time the men were in France or CorLutz.thumb.jpg.e3bfe2f272355b4d974d146bda1f5919.jpgsica, except for the static regiments in Guyana, Tahiti and the detachment in Mayotte... Lutz landed up in Corsica with bored, disenchanted and Brutal cadre who were still digesting the loss of Indochina and Algeria, and it was the newbies who became the victim of that frustration. Added to that, at this period the legion had no adventure to offer and many of the recruits were not really as motivated as in other periods... added to that, Lutz does not think much of the men he serves with. The book is limited as he deserted after 2 years... it is still worth a read as his story and opinions are not that much different to how I think it would have been back then.

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La ou l'on Meurt... peut-etre

 

by

 

Giorgio Adamo Muzatti

 

This book was a difficult read.... Muzzati has a writing style that best displays a level of French far surpassing the vocabulary of the average Legionnaire. It was difficult but worth it.

 

It starts off with him leaving Italy, working as a teenager in France, joining the legion, being an over achiever, being a bit of a know it all, being slightly irritating... but in the end you can not help respecting him, especially after the fantastic last half of the book dealing with Dien Bien Phu.Muzzati.thumb.jpg.e1c5041b554e30e5406013a71b139f8a.jpg

 

He has a great eye for detail, can tell a great story, and this must be one of the top 10 Legion books out there... Book one ends with his return from Indochina... I have ordered book 2

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This had to follow the one above... a Guy who joined about the same time, also taken prisonner at Dien Bien Phu... The stupid thing is the cover and title....

 

Ständig am Abgrund by Simon Bornschlegel. "always in the Abyss"

 

Bornschlegel is no Muzatti (see above). His book is nowhere near as detailed or interesting... he lacks the writing skills and eye for detail. Also captured in Dien Bien Phu, released, returned to algeria to finish his contract.... Thumbs up to him, he makes it very clear noone forced him to join, and he was never mistreated by NCOs or superiors. It has to be said... in the Legion the Officers are usually not that present in the day to day things... if Legionnaires are beaten or abused it is often up the NCOs in the section to set the tone for THAT section.... a Couple of Psycho NCOS and a guy writing a book will have that as his main point... this guy seems not to have had that.

 

The cover is pretty stupid... 'nuff said. Has nothing to do with the content.

 

he seems to have had no problems being in the legion... the bad part of his life seems to be after his return to Germany, a series of career and financial missteps and ends up with his wife and grown sons screwing him over and leaving him with empty pockets and hands.

 

So an interesting view of the legion in the early/mid 50s which could have done without his post legion life.Bornschlegel.thumb.jpg.7cf114b68f48a6992b423db71f5fe83e.jpg

 

 

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OK, in the Legion this book is not really liked.... some I know refuse to read it... It is not that Christian Jennings was a deserter... many people desert... its more because he was a weasel and a w3nker... to his credit, he readily admits this in the book. Added to that, IMHO he broaches some subjects and has some complaints that air dirty laundry in public.xxxmouthful.thumb.jpg.665e53f58a23b37eadc408506f517730.jpg

I did not like it when I read it in the early 90s, but now with time passed I recognize it has its place in a Legion library... he covers the conditions of the Legion in a period where little or nothing was happening and where NCOs and CPLs took their frustrations out on the recruits... I would recommend "Mouth full of Rocks" (In the legion a "C" often replaces the "R" to disparage Jennings) as one mans version of the legion at a very specific time in history when not a lot was happening... In the Legion you adapt yourself to your surroundings... and if you fail... you land up like Jennings.

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