By Adrian D. Gilbert

The French international Legion has confirmed a name because the such a lot bold of army forces. Created as a method of shielding French pursuits overseas, the legion spearheaded French colonialism in North Africa in the course of the 19th century. Accepting volunteers from all elements of the realm, the legion bought an air of mystery of mystery—and a below enviable popularity for brutality inside its ranks. Attracting recruits from around the globe, those new infantrymen clarify of their personal phrases why they submitted themselves to such brutal training.

Voices of the international Legion seems to be at how the legion selects its recruits, the place they arrive from, and why they search a lifetime of really good trouble and possibility. It additionally analyzes the legion’s strict perspective towards self-discipline, questions why desertion is a perennial challenge, and assesses the legion’s army achievements on the grounds that its formation in 1831. Its scope levels from the conquest of the colonies in Africa and the a ways East, throughout the horrors of the 2 global Wars, to the sour yet finally hopeless battles to keep up France’s imperial possessions.

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Extra resources for Voices of the Foreign Legion: The History of the World's Most Famous Fighting Corps

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But once I had signed, I felt an indescribable release. I’d finally done it! I was made to change into a green tracksuit smelling of sweat and vomit with a hole in the crotch, and was thrown into a room with the other new arrivals, a collection of humanity’s rejects. The Legion has always had a bizarre mix passing through its gates, from the legendary gentlemen who joined in top hats and tails to men who arrived in tatters and signed with an X. One after another, men in the new intake returned from the bureau waving pieces of paper printed with their nom de guerre, the new identity under which they were joining the Foreign Legion.

Twice a day the floor and staircases, which are of tile, were washed and scrubbed; how many times a day they were swept, Heaven only knows. The carré du quartier [parade square] was meticulously policed; not a scrap of paper, not a cigarette butt, not a toothpick ever was to be seen there. My first days in the Legion made me wonder whether I had not made a mistake, and turned myself into a scrub-woman, instead of a trooper in a crack corps. I washed tiles, I scrubbed them, I polished them. I swept, I swabbed.

Since the 1960s – and the Legion’s move from Algeria to France – improved pay and prospects have made the Legion attractive to a wider range of economic migrants, and following the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 many of these have come from Eastern Europe. Another inducement has been the offer of French citizenship when the legionnaire’s contract has been successfully completed. In the twenty-first century, the ranks of the Legion are being joined by increasing numbers from South America, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in the West.

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