The Sword and the Cross by Fergus Fleming
Two Men and an Empire of Sand

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Whether writing of the Alps, the high seas, or the North Pole, Fergus Fleming has won acclaim as one of today's most vivid and engaging historians of adventure and exploration. The Sword and the Cross takes us to the Sahara at the end of the nineteenth century, when France had designs on a hostile wilderness dominated by deadly Tuareg nomads.
Two fanatical adventurers, Charles de Foucauld and Henri Laperrine, rose to the cause of their country's national honor. Abandoning his decadent lifestyle as a sensualist and womanizer, Foucauld founded a monastic order so severe that during his lifetime it never had a membership of more than one. Yet he remained a committed imperialist and from his remote hermitage continued to assist the military. The stern career soldier Laperrine, meanwhile, founded a camel corps whose exploits became legendary. During World War I the Sahara's fragile peace crumbled. In the desert mountains Foucauld paid a tragic price for his role as imperial pawn. Laperrine, by then recalled to the Western Front, returned to avenge his friend.

About Fergus Fleming

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Fergus Fleming was born in 1959 and studied at Oxford University and City University. He was a writer and editor at Time-Life Books for six years before becoming a freelance writer in 1991.
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 368 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Sword and the Cross

The Guardian

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The Sword and the Cross by Fergus Fleming 400pp, Granta, £20 This is the tale of two extraordinary men who lived in an extraordinary place during an extraordinary time: General Laperrine and Father Foucauld, the two greatest figures from the turn-of-the-century French colonial conquest of the Sah...

Apr 12 2003 | Read Full Review of The Sword and the Cross: Two ...

Publishers Weekly

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As Fleming writes, "Evangelization was the mortar that imperialists hoped would turn the desert from conquered territory to complaisant colony," and while Foucauld became "a pawn in the colonial game," Fleming recognizes that most likely "he used the military as much as they used him."

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Spectator Book Club

Fleming then focuses on Vicomte Charles de Foucauld, a dissolute officer in the Fourth Hussars who ate foie gras straight from the tin and, while serving in north Africa, became famous for a remarkable 11-month journey exploring the Moroccan hinterland (after swallowing Tunisia, the French were l...

Mar 29 2003 | Read Full Review of The Sword and the Cross: Two ...

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