The best books about the French Foreign Legion from someone who joined

Who am I?

In 1999, I followed my childhood dreams and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. In 2005, I published my first work, Legion of the Lost, which chronicles my swashbuckling experience serving in the French Foreign Legion. This is my story. 


I wrote...

Legion of the Lost: The true experience of an American in the French Foreign Legion

By Jaime Salazar,

Book cover of Legion of the Lost: The true experience of an American in the French Foreign Legion

What is my book about?

Since 1831, the French Foreign Legion has been a renowned symbol of discipline and solidarity. Made up completely of foreign volunteers, the French Foreign Legion gives men a new lease on life, and a chance to test their limits both physically and mentally. And in 1999, the Foreign Legion was just what American Jaime Salazar was looking for.

From the harrowing physical rigors of Legion basic training to his posting in the 2e REG outside of the tiny village of Saint Christol, from his fierce competitiveness and pride to his ultimate disillusionment with the French Foreign Legion and dramatic desertion, this is the story of Salazar's quest for honor and sacrifice. Legion of the Lost is a compelling, first-hand account of the contemporary French Foreign Legion, sure to dispel myths while, at the same time, add to the legend of the finest trained army of mercenaries the world has ever seen.

The books I picked & why

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In the Foreign Legion

By Erwin Rosen,

Book cover of In the Foreign Legion

Why this book?

This is the ultimate in precise, deliberate, and informed military nonfiction writing. I related to the protagonist as he is a young german who is curious to see the world in 1905. He makes the fateful decision to join the legion and lives through the horrors of service therein, all the while describing the glory, valor, and traditions of this mysterious corpos. The author manages to describe very real events, organize them in a compelling manner, and elucidates a special moment in history.

In the Foreign Legion

By Erwin Rosen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Foreign Legion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the form of a wide square we went round the drill-ground, five minutes, ten minutes—un, deux, un, deux—always in sharp time. The corporal, a splendid runner, ran at the head, teaching us the trick on which everything depended here, to overcome the critical moment of lung exhaustion, to get the "second wind." Even if the breath came and went in short pumping gasps, if the eyes pained, and one commenced to stumble from exhaustion, one ran on until the lungs had got used to the extra exertion, until one had the feeling of being a machine, and could go…


Mouthful of Rocks: Modern Adventures in the French Foreign Legion

By Christian Jennings,

Book cover of Mouthful of Rocks: Modern Adventures in the French Foreign Legion

Why this book?

This book was a very compelling read and resonated with me, as the author was a professional and idealist who was drawn into a war that he was not in control of. His casual and all matter of fact style of writing made it a pleasure to read, while still hitting home with his underlying theme. Jennings is an Englishman with few prospects for a prosperous future so he throws his lot in with a motley bunch of foreigners in the service of france. He writes with hilarity and frankness that I was immediately drawn to.

Mouthful of Rocks: Modern Adventures in the French Foreign Legion

By Christian Jennings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mouthful of Rocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


The Making of a Legionnaire: My Life in the French Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment

By Bill Parris,

Book cover of The Making of a Legionnaire: My Life in the French Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment

Why this book?

This tome was the size of a phone book but it has relevance even today. It's one of the slightly obscure classics but it speaks to the profound spiritual questions that transcend time. Parris was an idealist Englishman who served in the legion in the early 90s. but this was not a story of glory and medals. Parris saw action in Chad and had to spill blood. This chilling act never left him and he was haunted by his actions for years to come. The author passed from illness but dedicated the book to his son.

The Making of a Legionnaire: My Life in the French Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment

By Bill Parris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of a Legionnaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Penniless, divorced and AWOL from the British forces, Bill Parris volunteered for the French Foreign Legion in the early 1980s. Unlike many British volunteers to the Legion, Bill did not desert. He endured a horrendous training regime and, despite a fear of heights (!) joined the elite Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment. He discovered how women from all over the world flock to Corsica where the Legion is based - so his R&R was almost as exhausting as the jungle warfare school he was later sent to. This is more than a war story - it is a personal journey too,…


Legionnaire no. 31022

By Thomas Cushny,

Book cover of Legionnaire no. 31022

Why this book?

Cushny wanted to join the royal air force but was barred due to his eyesight. Instead he joined up with the French foreign legion in Algeria. He barely escaped with his life after serving in one of the fiercest moments in its history, the 1920 wars against moroccan separatists and berbers. It paints a shocking portrait of service in the legion.

Legionnaire no. 31022

By Thomas Cushny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Legionnaire no. 31022 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Legionnaire: Five Years in the French Foreign Legion

By Simon Murray,

Book cover of Legionnaire: Five Years in the French Foreign Legion

Why this book?

This is the gold standard for legion memoirs. It was written by a well bred English youth who was bored with life and decided to seek adventure in the foreign legion. He served with distinction during the Algerian push for independence. He writes in a diary style, which is jarring at times, but ultimately ives this book a certain warmth and relevance that will have readers gripped and wondering about the legion for generations to come.

Legionnaire: Five Years in the French Foreign Legion

By Simon Murray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Legionnaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the greatest adventure stories in years.' - Chris Patten

'The drama, excitement and colour of a good guts-and-glory thriller.' - Dr. Henry Kissinger

The French Foreign Legion - mysterious, romantic, deadly - is filled with men of dubious character, and hardly the place for a proper Englishman just nineteen years of age. Yet in 1960, Simon Murray traveled alone to Paris, Marseilles, and on to Algeria to fulfill the toughest contract of his life: a five-year stint in the Legion. Along the way, he kept a diary.

Legionnaire is a compelling, firsthand account of Murray's experience with this…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the French Foreign Legion, World War 1, and Algeria?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the French Foreign Legion, World War 1, and Algeria.

The French Foreign Legion Explore 13 books about the French Foreign Legion
World War 1 Explore 627 books about World War 1
Algeria Explore 24 books about Algeria

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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