In this book, Tony Geraghty analyses the legend and re-examines the battle honour of the Foreign Legion, illuminating the darker side of its historic relationship to the motherland as well as its triumphs.
Called into being in 1831 as a device to absorb the footloose veterans of Napoleon's old armies, the French Foreign Legion subsequently won astonishing victories in far-flung battlefields, from Spain, Algeria and Morocco to Indo-China, and West and Central Africa. The legionnaires gained fame for their utter dedication and willingness to die, yet were viewed with suspicion and repeatedly betrayed by successive French governments.
Tony Geraghty also traces the Legion's diminished fortunes in recent years. It has fought in the Gulf War, Rwanda and Kosovo among other conflicts, but has found itself in "a world of political correctness which left the Legion marooned on an island of admirable but anachronistic values".