Rendezvous with Death Book Review

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Rendezvous with Death: The Americans Who Joined the Foreign Legion in 1914 to Fight for France and for Civilization

by David Hanna

Hardcover in dustjacket, 332 pages

Published by Regnery History June 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1621573966

ISBN-13: 978-1621573968

Dimensions: 6.0 x 1.1 x 9.0 inches

The French Foreign Legion is one of the more storied of the world’s military formations.  In the Legion a man can make a fresh start regardless of his past – in exchange for the promise of military service to France a new identity is created.  The Legion is famous for attracting men looking for a fresh start for themselves or to forget past mistakes.  The men in this book did not join the Legion for the typical reasons.

Rendezvous with Death is the story of a group of Americans living in Paris at the beginning of the Great War in 1914.  Idealism is what drove them to fight for France against the Germans, and the Legion was their pathway.  At the time France was in dire need of all the help they could get, the German offensive initially met with success but had descended into a quagmire of trench warfare.  Any gains were small and only achieved at terrible costs.

The Americans in the Legion fought at Champagne, Verdun, and the Somme among other engagements.  Some later fought as aviators in the Lafayette Escadrille.  Author Hanna has done a remarkable job in following the actions of these men and describing their experiences whether in the trenches or in the air.

Overall a fascinating read which went quickly.  The Legion is a unique military organization in many ways so that perspective was interesting as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book which I can recommend without hesitation.

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