Upon his return to civilian life, the combat veteran Lartéguy embarked on a new career as a war correspondent, travelling from one hot spot to another to cover conflicts in Korea, Indochina, Algeria, and Latin America. It was during this period that the former soldier developed both his writing skills and his clear-eyed understanding of the rapidly evolving phenomenon of “asymmetrical warfare” that was only then beginning to ignite in communist insurgencies around the globe. One of the first western observers to recognize the threat posed by this new type of conflict, the writer’s early insights about the nature of revolutionary warfare in the twentieth-century are still considered valid to this day.
|Jean Lartéguy, 1944|
For my own part, I read Lartéguy’s classic war novel “The Centurions”, which dealt with the doomed French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria, when I was deployed in Vietnam during the mid-1960s. I thought then, and I still do, that the author wrote with a genuine understanding and appreciation of the men (whatever their nationality) who volunteer to take up arms and to go into harm’s way on behalf of their (often unappreciative) fellow countrymen.
|General Marcel Bigeard|
|Col. Lewis L. Millett|
|General David Petraeus|