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Legionnaire: The Real Life Story of an Englishman in the French Foreign Legion
 
 

Legionnaire: The Real Life Story of an Englishman in the French Foreign Legion [Kindle Edition]

Simon Murray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Simon Murray was nineteen when he joined the French Foreign Legion. Inspired by the romantic myths of Beau Geste, he found himself in the ranks of one of the world's greatest - and toughest - fighting forces. He kept a unique diary of the hard living, harsh discipline, and the military tradition of 'March or Die' which he turned into this gripping book. 'Simon Murray's personal account of a gently reared, well-educated British youth's coming of age in the French Foreign Legion has the drama, excitement and colour of a good guts-and-glory thriller . . . Murray is a talented storyteller, and his fellow legionnaires and their disciplined and proud Corps are vividly portrayed. I was hooked from the first page.' Dr Henry Kissinger 'One of the greatest adventure stories in recent years.' Chris Patten

Book Description

Simon Murray was nineteen when he joined the French Foreign Legion. Inspired by the romantic myths of Beau Geste, he found himself in the ranks of one of the world's greatest - and toughest - fighting forces. He kept a unique diary of the hard living, harsh discipline, and the military tradition of 'March or Die' which he turned into this gripping book. 'Simon Murray's personal account of a gently reared, well-educated British youth's coming of age in the French Foreign Legion has the drama, excitement and colour of a good guts-and-glory thriller . . . Murray is a talented storyteller, and his fellow legionnaires and their disciplined and proud Corps are vividly portrayed. I was hooked from the first page.' Dr Henry Kissinger 'One of the greatest adventure stories in recent years.' Chris Patten

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When Simon Murray joined the Legion in early 1960, he was an English only-just-ex-public schoolboy (Bedford College) who had previously spent about eight months "before the mast" after leaving behind a --partly-- unrequited love affair. So far, so classic and in fact he even contrived a happy ending: after five years in the Legion, the lady married him and he became extremely wealthy in South-East Asia.
As for his time in the Legion, what stays with the reader is the sheer brutality of both the training staff (and other) NCO's, as well as that of many of the recruits, who ranged from the few --like Murray-- who might have been officers in their own armies, to the utterly barbaric or simply primitive. Murray had the advantage of fitness, youth and a command of French.
The Legion in Murray's day was in transition, from the old "joining to forget" army of yesteryear, to the highly trained rapid response commando Legion which began to emerge in the 1960's. There was also the difficulty of Algeria: Murray played a role, at ground level, in fighting the F.L.N.; after de Gaulle gave in to the F.L.N., many of the French and German Legionnaires joined the O.A.S. and tried to topple de Gaulle. Murray stayed aloof. He became corporal, then sergeant, was offered officer status but refused it (all officers must have or take French nationality).
The diaries are written well, grippingly so. At times, Murray's life is in peril in a very concrete sense. Yet amid the brutality and danger, the author never loses humanity, as when he is disgusted as several legionnaires machinegun a donkey. You can remove a young man from the Lansdowne Club, but...Murray never becomes just one of the pack.
This book is now a classic of military, adventure and autobiographical literature. Read it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matchless adventure story 22 Mar 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
They don't make Englishmen like Simon Murray any more. Still a fresh-faced teen, he struggles with conflicting loyalties to family, country and the love of his life, and decides to join the French Foreign Legion. It is scarcely conceivable that a modern teenager would have the strength of character to do the same, but the 19-year old Murray soon finds himself in Algeria, facing a regime of brutality unimaginable by modern standards, as an underfunded, politically riven French army attempts to hold together its crumbling African empire. Then as now, the task proves difficult to say the least, as Murray and his multinational comrades sweat, dig and march over fly-blown hillsides, taking appalling disease, injury and terrible food in their stride.

Murray's story, expanded from diary entries, gives a fascinating account of a bygone age when young men were willing to accept terrible hardships for the sake of adventure, but he doesn't shy away from criticisms of French military policy or the many near-psychotic thugs that he found himself serving alongside. What is clear at the end is that the experience stood him in good stead - we would all benefit from such clarity of purpose and vision. The little details stand out - Murray's attachment to England, and the home comforts that he received in the post; the random acts of savage brutality perpetrated by his comrades; and the esprit-de-corps of the Legion, despite the grumblings and myriad nationalities of those who served in it. Far better written that any contemporary account by SAS veterans padding out their five minutes on the balcony, this deserves to remain in print for a very long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 28 May 2013
By Tel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really interesting tale of five tough years in the FL. Brutal training must make these soldiers among the best in the world, but I wonder how much easier it is now, forty years later
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proper blokes read ! 24 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Beau Geste it isn't, but a fantastic insight into the cold, hard, rough environment of a permanently grueling and challenging career. 'Career', however, is far too polite for what was an existence that most would describe as doing hard time in a Russian prison. S.A.S. selection is a a couple of months in a theme park by comparison. This book was a thoroughly gripping read about a man's ability to mentally and physically 'take it on the chin' for 5 years and come out as one of the world's biggest movers.Top stuff Simon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legionnaire by Simon Murray. 19 Mar 2012
By Kevin
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The real life story of a young man who joins the French Foreign Legion.

A fantastic book of high adventure and unbelievable hardship - by today's standards.

Simon Murray, a young man of 19 years joins the French Foreign Legion in early 1960. And what entails is the five tough years that he spends there and all that happens to him to turn the boy into a man.

The book is written in diary form, and once started is very difficult to put down. What would seem like torture to most is the accepted way of life to the Legionnaire. They truly are - a breed apart!

I read this book 20 years ago, and when I opened it again it was like meeting an old friend...

When you've turned the last page, you will want to sit back for a moment or two, stare into space and think WOW!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. This has to be one of the best I've ever read. What he went through in the French Foreign Legion is just incredible - from the training to real live fighting. it is presented as a diary of his time with them. A real insight to the life of a Legionnaire. A must read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal gripping and yet sensitive read
Gripping diary of his life in the Legion and great to see how things sinned out in later years . Great read
Published 7 days ago by Mr. G. F. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good
Published 22 days ago by wulfstan
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and read with an envious smile!
What a great book!
Very enjoyable well written and easy to read.
Thank you for sharing your accounts and memories of Legion life... Read more
Published 28 days ago by anthony gillespie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
10/10
Published 1 month ago by Painter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As per Stars
Published 2 months ago by stormfinch
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic. i can't rate this book highly enough
Fantastic. i can't rate this book highly enough. A fantastic memoir and it's great to read about a man who has really lived life. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nimz
5.0 out of 5 stars great first hand story of life in the Legion
great first hand story of life in the Legion. Pulls no punches and the day to day brutality is hair raising.
Published 2 months ago by malkiel
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it more than once
You have to read this book more than once to believe all that happened to Simon Murray
He describes the enigma that is the legion in an easily readable format.
Published 3 months ago by Ayrshireboy
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
Second time i've read this book. Good read.
Published 3 months ago by Jason McGee
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for all
Despite the hard man repertoire of a typical Legionnaire, Murray manages to stay a true Englishman gent throughout...I was in tears by the end!
Published 3 months ago by Jo Evans
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