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.
The author deftly captures the romance as well as the horror of life in the French Foreign Legion. Blanchard's style, broad knowledge of France, and scholarly research in the legion's archives make this a detailed and fascinating book of French history. * Kirkus Reviews * An entertaining, boisterous history of the French colonial project writ large, in which the Legion, with all its faults and contradictions, played a central role . . . Blanchard adroitly captures the almost surreal absurdity of placing such a corps at the spearhead of a global project promising liberte, egalite, et fraternite. * Publishers Weekly * Storytelling and details are not lacking in At the Edge of the World. * The New York Times Book Review * Jean-Vincent Blanchard dissects the facts and fiction behind the legendary outfit in this wide-ranging, heavily researched discussion of the history, culture, defining characteristics, and raison d'etre of the French Foreign Legion. * Washington Independent Review of Books * The book succinctly captures the romance and reality of the Legion. It shows how the Legion adapted to its different missions while confronting its challenges. At the Edge of the World shows why the legend of the Legion endures today. I recommend this book for any reader interested in the French Foreign Legion, the history of French colonialism, or counterinsurgency. -- Robert J. Rielly * Military Review * [Edith Pilaf's] image of the moody and uncompromising Legionnaire, attracted by the promise of `blood, bullets, bayonets and women in an Arab land' . . . gets closest to the historical and psychological truth, as laid before us in [Jean-Vincent Blanchard's] gripping, disturbing and controversial account of the Legion's first century. * The Daily Mail * Well written with extensive use of memoirs and archival material, including the stories of high-ranking officers, colonial governors, and common soldiers. The skillful blend of these sources makes it an enjoyable read. This is a worthy retelling of the French Foreign Legion at the height of its fame and renown. * Military Heritage * Blanchard's scholarly but entertaining book shows that the mystery and romance associated with the legion had some basis in reality. Blanchard uses the career of Marshal Louis-Hubert Lyautey, who was involved in campaigns with the legion from Algeria to Indochina to Madagascar, to explore the legion's character, role, and fights. -- Lawrence D. Freedman * Foreign Affairs * Blanchard's achievement is to bring to light the historical paradox of the legionnaire:...The disenchanted legionnaire is himself a byproduct of the contradictions and failures of European modernization, yet he brazenly risks his life abroad to spread that same project of modernity. * America Magazine online *