The author has had a long and distinguished career in popular military history for over twenty five years.
Originally raised in the nineteenth century for pacifying the inhabitants of then Algeria, the so-called "romance" of the Foreign Legion has long fascinated the general reader around the world.The reality was much different. Not Beau Geste at all. Before the Great War of 1914, the Legion was composed of long service men most of whom had no other home. Their loyalty was pledged to the Legion not to France, thus they did not forsake their own nationalities. It was a hard and dangerous life but not without its satisfactions to the many hard men who joined it.
When the war broke out in 1914, nationals of many nations not directly involved rushed to enlist in the service of France. The political decision was made to enroll these men in the Legion, not in the French Army. This led to clashes of view between the idealistic new comers and the hard-bitten "old sweats". But this was finally smoothed out and the Legion earned its laurels. One unit was decorated so many times that it wore a double fouraguerre (a braided cord worn on the shoulder as an award of unit valor akin to an individual's award of the Croix de Guerre.) and they were told that if they continued to excell in bravery, the Army would continue to invent new insignia for them.
This work is a splendid example of the new emphasis of the publisher on producing comprehensive works in a handy inexpensive format compared with the earlier broad brush treatments which covered too much in too little detail.
The new emphasis is on sets and volumes covering various national armed forces in as much detail as is available, consistent with the current purpose of the works in the series, which have evolved from an original emphasis on serving the military miniature maker market into works intended to enlighten the general reader in enough detail to satisfy the merely curious and to point the way to further reading.
Most of us, including myself, have little need for, or the patience to read, voluminous studies, often in foreign languages, covering many eras and nations. My main interest is in the US forces, their allies and their enemies in the twentieth century.
That said, these works should be purchased as presented, in sets within the series. Since they are produced as a set, the volumes cover only relevent parts of the general history and the clothing and individual equipment is covered as it appears in each period. The French Army, US Army, British Army, and Italian Army series all have three volumes, covering the major theatres and time periods of the war. The German set has five.
This should be read along with the volumes on the French Army of the same period.
If you want an introduction to the fascinating variety of clothing and equipment of the forces covered, this set is for you.