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The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force
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The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The French Foreign Legion is a complete, captivating study of the famed fighting force, from its inception in 1831 to modern times. Historian Douglas Porch chronicles the Legion’s involvement in Spain, Mexico, Indochina, Madagascar, WWI, Vietnam, and Algiers (to name a few) and delves into the inner workings of legionnaires and their captains. Known for draconian disciplin ...more
Paperback, 784 pages
Published June 23rd 1992 by Harper Perennial (first published June 1991)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  166 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, superbly researched and well written, and unbelievably funny at times. This is the model for what an institutional history should be for any military organization.
Andy Lucy
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the best history of the French Foreign Legion ever written. It is neither a glorification of the Legion's exploits, nor is it a condemnation of its shortfalls. It is an evenhanded treatment of the Legion's accomplishments, failures, traditions and its unique style of producing fighting men, who fight not for France, but for the Legion. Porch's writing style is eminently readable and not in the least dry... as many military historians can be.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thorough, but over-written

An exhaustively documented history that is overly wordy as a result. Much is stated and re-stated that could be more succinct. Nonetheless as presents a rich picture of the FFL.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book is an excellent history of the Legion from its beginnings to just before the first Gulf War. the Legion has been one the best fighting forces in history. Also one the most devastated from Mexico to Bir Hakeem to Dien Bien Phu. The book did temper the romanticism I held the Legion, but all in all a Good read for those interested in the subject.
Christopher Fox
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) history of that legendary offshoot of France's military establishment. As befitting a book which clocks in at 744 pages, Porch covers every angle of the Legion's establishment, growth, mid-life crises and decline and never hides the glories and hells through which it and the polyglot group of many nationalities that comprise it lived and fought. He doesn't shirk from praise and certainly not from laying blame for failures both on the incompetence of comma ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Long, extensively researched. Can get repetitious discussing desertion, etc. Unfortunately ends in the 1960's and doesn't cover more modern events.
Maxo Marc
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This legendary fighting force has no equal. Their reputation is well earned. Their march through history has been with bloody foot prints. A great read.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I finished it. A very detailed history of the French foreign Legion. It was slow in parts but very informative.
Fredrick Danysh
Porch presents an academic study of the French Foreign Legion which is comprised of foreigners serving in France's military. While fairly comprehensive, drawbacks includes the extensive use of French terms and a tendency to use large words. The historic facts are informative though the work is a difficult read for the average person.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Well written, deeply researched history of the famous fighting force. Chapters covering the Legion's early exploits in the 1830s and 1840s were a bit slow, but the pace picked up as the narrative moved into the 20th century. The final part of the book, covering the Legion's exploits in Indochina and Algeria, was actually the most interesting. Recommended for serious readers of history.
Bill Potter
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good though long book. The writer was able to get the detail about right.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A good book on the Foriegn legion goes into just enough details and give enough anecdotes to be fun.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed account of a unique band of brothers.
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Douglas Porch is an American historian, academic and a Professor and former Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs for the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee in 1967 and a Ph. D. from Cambridge University in 1972. He has been a professor of strategy at the Naval War College, a ...more