Review: The French Foreign Legion, Douglas Boyd

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was a detailed history in many a way, and it is clear that the author is enthusiastic about the Foreign Legions and its engagements throughout the approximately two centuries it has been in existence. Mr Boyd goes starts by throwing the reader into the deep, expecting them to pick up on what was going on in Vietnam before taking a step back and describing the earliest Legion and its gradual development into an Algerian occupying army and from that the other conflicts it has participated in.

I am generally in favour of letting the author decide what sort of a timeline should be followed for a history to come through best, and often one can agree on that the chronological is not the best. This can be due to various reasons, and I would normally expect that the narrative makes it clear why these changes were necessary. Mr Boyd does not follow this approach, and indeed, a lot of what he does remains unclear to me.

This book is very good in highlighting individual Legion conflicts and the sacrifices made in these; however, in general it was also very difficult to recognise an underlying theme between these engagements, even when the author would comment that the reader had met one or other of the soldiers beforehand.

A number of interesting stories are brought forward from many parts of the world, but I find that the overall weakness of this book is the lack of a general narrative to string the story of the Legion into as coherent a narrative as the unit itself is nowadays.

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