The French Foreign Legion remains one of the world's most enigmatic military forces. Created in France in 1831 and immediately posted to the scorching deserts of Algeria, it went on to become a unit renowned for its cruel training regime and its absolute disregard for death in battle. Unlike any other military unit in the world, its ranks are open to foreigners, and traditionally it has received many troubled or criminal individuals fleeing from problems back home.
Today much has changed. The Legion now numbers only 8,500 men, and is far more discriminating about whom it recruits. Using an aggressive and arduous training programme, it has turned itself into one of the world's true elites, a status it has continually proved since its inception in battles of extraordinary courage and bloodshed.
The French Foreign Legion reveals the facts and reality behind this compelling unit. Its history in combat is described in full, from its use in the conquest of Algeria in the 1840s to its role in the war against terrorism today. The ascetic lifestyle of a legionnaire is explored in depth, including first-hand accounts of training and punishments. The myths concerning joining the Legion are dispelled, and there is a full description of the recruitment and selection process. Chapters on specialist training discuss the technical and tactical excellence achieved by the Legion soldiers. Finally, a section is devoted to the superb equipment and weaponry of the Legion units, from the dress uniform to the Leclerc tank.
Illustrated with 120 colour and black-&-white photographs and line artworks, and written with detail and energy, The French Foreign Legion is a fascinating journey into a military unit which is almost unique in the history of men-at-arms.