The military cult classic with resonance to the wars in Iraq and Vietnam—now back in print When The Centurions was first published in. The military cult classic with resonance to the wars in Iraq and Vietnam – now back in print. When The Centurions was first published in , readers were. Jean Larteguy (the pen name of Jean Pierre Lucien Osty, ) spent time in prison in Spain in , the year I was born. He then joined.

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All are viewed in an adversarial light. Readers like David Petraeus or Robert Kaplan who provides the introduction to this edition are riveted by the insurgent soldier-saint aspect, the “band of brothers.

Our French centurions end this book huddled on a rhe hillside in the lartegiy and rain; they have only one another. Each week, our editors select the one author and one book they believe to be most worthy of your attention and highlight them in our Pro Connect email alert. Dec 12, Rashel rated it liked it Shelves: I loved the French-ness of the book, which did not at all distract from the universality of its message.

Jan 27, Pat Dugan rated it it was amazing. He skewers intellectuals and the bloated cowards in the military that are not of the paratrooper community. A complex and cerebral book. Much about the book is artificial, in the way of high drama.

Sign up here lartegiy receive your FREE alerts. I am conscious of the fact that I read this book 60 years after its events. Larteguy skewers civilians in France, and the Pied-Noirs in Algeria. The problem is, one has to keep them.

Even the idea of war as between two clear-cut sides is not strictly correct; unless there is an incredible unifying factor, one could usually pull away individuals, tribes, or factions from a guerrilla movement.


Kaplan, revised from a article ceenturions The Atlantic called “Rereading Vietnam. The Centurions is the first of two books by Jean Larteguy that follows a platoon of French paratroopers the sequel, which I’ve ordered, is The Praetori I had never heard of this book when it got selected for a book club.

And these particular soldiers, as the name of the book strongly implies and specific events in the book make explicit, are atavisms of a kind of man that emerged from the aristocracy from which the French aristocracy was born, the Roman aristocracy.

The Bowed Bookshelf: The Centurions by Jean Lartéguy translated by Xan Fielding

No trivia or quizzes yet. Larteguy presents those developments with all the messiness intact—without appearing to take a defined position against their moral compromise or in favor of the rapid success that results in a swift victory that saves countless civilian lives.

In both cases, France went there first and failed first, before the United States did. And they must feel also the loss of the constraints of discipline and danger.

This philosophy is hardly mitigated by the duplicity which the French government inflicts time and time again against the Centurion, first in Vietnam, then in Egypt, and finally in Algiers.

Held in immensely high esteem within the Special Forces community around the world, The Centurions tells the story of a group of French paratroopers who are captured after the debacle at Dien Bien Phu and survive the communist camps only to return home and discover themselves estranged from capitalist, bourgeois France.

This is the post communism, post colonialism, post Vietnam and post Cold War era. Our heroes grapple with the issue of torture, which further goes to develop their disconnect with their civilian masters, and even alrteguy own high military leadership. The former is necessarily tied to a time and place in history, the latter appears to be timeless.

The Centurions

Inscr This is Jean Larteguy’s most famous book that garnered international acclaim and sold millions of larteguj. I read it and then spent a couple of months wondering why the United States was involved in a ground war in Southeast Asia.


Many died on the mile death march into Camp One and many subsequently from starvation and illness.

These soldiers in particular emerge out of the final evaporating whiffs of French aristocracy. Their struggle, first depicted in Vietnam, carries over to Algeria. If Centurions are timeless, are the foes they face timeless as well? May 19, Pages. This site uses cookies. Captured at Dien Bien Phu, the men are held captive for months enduring excruciating hardships at the hands of their Vietminh captors.

Larteguy closes out the soldier portion of the narrative by showing their success in the war like the Roman Centurions that give the book its name centurionx, but gestures toward the growing conflict between those triumphant warriors and the French political system like the Roman Praetorians lartwguy gives the sequel its name.

Engaging and psychologically tense depiction of French soldiers, centurions, from the prison camps after Dien Bien Phu to the guerrilla wars of Algeria. The defeat centudions Indo-China and the fall of Dien Bien Phu failed to drive home to the French politicians, general staff and civilians in the far-off capital, the fact that the policies were outworn, that the old army operations were useless against a ruthless Comunist enemy and a guerrilla war.

Centuurions they had not bargained for was that something had changed in them — the methods used against them by their captors seemed inevitably the laeteguy they in turn adopted to use against the Algerian enemy. I do not recommend books very often. It is still fresh. It has too its moments of perverted humor, of sensitivity, of poignancy.