France's Tabulous Legion Etrangere, or the Foreign Legion, may well be on its last legs now that it has sadly transferred itself from the sands of Algeria to its new quarters in Aubagne near Marseilles. And, as this remarkably vivid history underlines, the world will lose one of its most astonishingly colorful band of mercenaries. To the run-of-the-bottle Legionnaire, the consuming mystique subscribed to is that death is life and that it is better to die well than live badly. (Suicide, however, is one of the Legion's chief problems.) A Legionnaire's first loyalty is to the Legion, while he may freely express contempt for France, God and Man, and this loyalty has resulted in literally thousands of insanely heroic acts during the combat. Escape from the past or a lost cause impels most Legionnaires to join up, and, as recruits, they are thoroughly indoctrinated with the Legion's visionary fatalism. Frenchmen themselves are anned from joining unless they take another name and nationality. Initiated 130 years ago for an expedition against Algiers, the Legion was composed of the dregs of the world's armies, and since then has not much improved on its sources for recruits. The Legion's campaigns in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Mexico, the Crimea, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Norway, West Africa, East Africa, Libya, Syria, Madagascar, Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Indochina and Formosa are all highlighted here and attest to its glory in other than desert fighting. A substantial history.