The remarkable story of the French Foreign Legion, its dramatic rise throughout the nineteenth century, and its most committed champion, General Hubert Lyautey. An aura of mystery, romance, and danger surrounds the French Foreign Legion, the all-volunteer corps of the French Army, founded in 1831. Famous for its physically grueling training in harsh climates, the legion fought in French wars from Mexico to Madagascar, Southeast Asia to North Africa. To this day, despite its reputation for being assigned the riskiest missions in the roughest terrain, the mystique of the legion continues to attract men from every corner of the world. In At the Edge of the World, historian Jean-Vincent Blanchard follows the legion's rise to fame during the nineteenth century--focusing on its campaigns in Indochina and especially in Africa--when the corps played a central role in expanding and protecting the French Empire. As France struggled to be a power capable of rivaling the British, the figure of the legionnaire--deadly, self-sacrificing, uncompromisingly efficient--came to represent the might and morale that would secure a greater, stronger nation.
Drawing from rare, archival memoirs and testimonies of legionnaires from the period and tracing the fascinating career of Hubert Lyautey, France's first resident-general in Morocco and a hero to many a legionnaire, At the Edge of the World chronicles the Foreign Legion at the height of its renown, when the corps and its archetypically handsome, moody, and marginalized recruits became both the symbols of a triumphant colonialism and the stuff of legend.
The remarkable story of the French Foreign Legion, its dramatic rise throughout the nineteenth century, and its most committed champion, General Hubert Lyautey.
Vivid ... readers conditioned by Alexander Dumas's 'The Three Musketeers' to see Richelieu as an arch villain will be prompted to a rethinking by Eminence. Wall Street Journal Blanchard's captivating biography vividly captures the rise to power of a seminal figure who was instrumental in creating France as we know it. -- starred review Publishers Weekly on EMINENCE Blanchard gives Cardinal Richelieu a tremendous depth of character through the re-creation of key, decisive moments over the course of his courtly career. Kirkus Reviews [Blanchard] excels in digging deep beneath the surface to reveal the extraordinary man who spawned the legend. Booklist on EMINENCE Blanchard paints a riveting picture of the scope of Richelieu's career ... While the life of the notorious cardinal is hardly untouched material for writers, Blanchard's biography is one of few recent treatments of the subject in English and should be well received by scholars and general readers with a serious interest in French military or political history. Library Journal on EMINENCE Lovers of intrigue and derring-do will enjoy Jean-Vincent Blanchard's Eminence ... [his] lively style will appeal to general readers, while history buffs will appreciate his careful footnotes and plethora of primary sources. Baltimore Sun A colorfully entertaining and beautifully crafted biography ... If you are fascinated by political intrigue, this is your book. The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) on EMINENCE A richly rewarding study of both an early student of absolute state power, and how his influence built the foundation for France's domination of seventeenth-century Europe. BarnesandNobleReview.com on EMINENCE
Jean--Vincent Blanchard is Professor of French Studies at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books published in Canada and France, as well as Eminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France.