The best books about life in the French Foreign Legion

Joel Struthers Author Of Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion
By Joel Struthers

Who am I?

One has to learn about France's Military history to understand the Legion. I served in her ranks, and my efforts are to help educate those interested in facts. That is why I wrote the book Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion and continue to laisse with the Legion to try and help increase recruitment.


I wrote...

Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion

By Joel Struthers,

Book cover of Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion

What is my book about?

In Appel, Joel Struthers recounts the dangers and demands of military life, from the rigours of recruitment and operational training in the rugged mountains of France to face-to-face combat in the grasslands of some of Africa’s most troubled nations.

Told through the eyes of a soldier, and interspersed with humorous anecdotes, Appel is a fascinating story that debunks myths about the French Foreign Legion and shows it more accurately as a professional arm of the French military. Struthers provides insight into the rigorous discipline that the Legion instills in its young recruits, who trade their identities as individuals for a life of adventure and a role in a unified force whose motto is “Honour and Loyalty.”

The books I picked & why

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A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

By Alistair Horne,

Book cover of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

Why this book?

Not a book that covers the legion directly but the war in Algeria is a big part of the Legions history, and notably the Legion’s 2e régiment étranger de parachutistes. The Algerian War lasted from 1954 to 1962. It came close to provoking a civil war on French soil. For those interested in the Putsch, then get into this book. More than a million Muslim Algerians died in the conflict and many European settlers were driven into exile. Above all, the war was marked by the unholy marriage of revolutionary terror, and repressive torture. 


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 was ‘the book’ that ultimately led to my joining the Legion to attain the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e régiment étranger de parachutistes). 

I had the distinct honour to interview Mr. Simon Murray, and discuss his meaningful book. Mr. Murray's compelling first-hand account of his time with the REP during the Franco-Algerian war (1960s) is the example of what a Legionnaire represents. Mr. Simon Murray, CBE is a British Hong Kong-based businessman, adventurer, and author.


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

By Douglas Porch,

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

Why this book?

If interested in the Legion's history this is the book to read. As its title suggests it’s a complete history of the legendary fighting force. The author Dr. Douglas Porch is an American military historian, and academic. Dr. Porch has written more than eight books and numerous other publications, mostly about French Military History and French Colonialism. 


Devil's Guard: The Fascinating, True Story of the French Foreign Legion's Nazi Battalion

By George Robert Elford,

Book cover of Devil's Guard: The Fascinating, True Story of the French Foreign Legion's Nazi Battalion

Why this book?

I had read this years ago but listened to the audiobook recently. Story of a former German Waffen-SS officer fighting with the Legion in the First Indochina War. The book is presented by the author as nonfiction but considered to be untrue by military historians and usually sold as fiction. Regardless it’s a great read and or listen. This is my Legion entertainment choice! If interested a book set is available with its best-selling series (six books) that has sold over a million copies.


Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu

By Bernard B. Fall,

Book cover of Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu

Why this book?

My 5th choice which I’m currently listening to is not directly Legion related however for those who are interested in the Legion’s history The 1954 Siege of Dien Bien Phu is an important one. Having visited Dien Bien Phu as a tourist, and to pay my respects to the Legionnaires who fought. So, the more I can read and or listen to about this pitch battle the better. The author, acclaimed scholar, and reporter was a prominent war correspondent in Indochina during the 1950s and 1960s. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the French Foreign Legion, France, and Paris?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the French Foreign Legion, France, and Paris.

The French Foreign Legion Explore 12 books about the French Foreign Legion
France Explore 587 books about France
Paris Explore 213 books about Paris

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Mouthful of Rocks, Legionnaire no. 31022, and Band of Brothers if you like this list.