ST. MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON by Pierre Leulliette


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These are the memoirs of a young French paratrooper during his three years of fighting the fellahas (rebels) in Algeria, where ""the stern wild pain of sudden death"" was imminent daily. The rebels who are no more or less savage than the paratroopers, at least have a cause: the paratroopers have only their recruiting slogan (""My domain glory, my dream fighting"") to sustain them through a madness of constant torture, murder, crime and public indifference to their deaths. Death, for either side, is preferred to capture; capture merely means torture before death. But as page after page of murder and death accumulate in the author's journal, the reader's ability to respond with indignant horror over this incredible human calamity is certainly dulled. At that, so is the paratroopers', for when reenlistment day arrives they sign up again ""absentmindedly, without thinking: in fact, it's long time since they've thought of anything really important."" When Leulliette watches without helping to prevent the murder of a young Algerian girl, her body becomes the symbol of all war for him. He did not reenlist.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1964
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin