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Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion Hardcover – June 14, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st Free P edition (June 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743200012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743200011
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,267,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Englishwoman Susan Travers, aka "La Miss," now 91, was the only woman ever to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion. Travers's story begins with her lonely girlhood, spent wishing she were a boy and yearning for her military father's approval. In her late teens and 20s during Europe's decadent '20s Travers rebelled, hitting every baccarat table and aristocrat's bed she could find. When war broke out in 1939, she was ready to live out her girlhood fantasies of exotic travel and heroic service. Joining de Gaulle's Free French, she endured the mandatory nursing training and in North Africa found the work she wanted, as a front-line driver. Eventually, she became Gen. Pierre Koenig's personal driver and secret lover. She emerged a decorated hero of the bloody Bir Hakeim campaign in Libya, often referred to as the Verdun of WWII. Her (married) general's career also advanced too far for their affair to continue. In her despair, Travers joined up and became a true Legionnaire, escaping her unhappiness by immersing herself in the world of warfare. Still, "je ne regrette rien" is the message here, which may be why this prefeminist figure sounds so inspiring to modern ears. (June)Forecast: With enough review attention and the right endorsements, this action-packed romance could find its way onto many women's shelves. Its historical interest should attract students, and the saga of a woman fighting to live on her own terms could draw reading- group interest.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

At age 91, Travers decided that she could finally write the autobiography of her life and her part in the French Foreign Legion because all the principal people have passed away. Travers spent her childhood in England and eventually moved to France with her parents. In 1940, she left behind a privileged life to join the Free French. She fell in love with General Koenig of the Foreign Legion, and they ended up in Africa fighting Rommel. The only woman ever to serve in the French Foreign Legion, in 1942 Travers led a convoy of men and vehicles to freedom after being surrounded and outnumbered for 15 days. After the war, she served with the Foreign Legion in Tunisia. In 1997, she was given France's highest award for bravery, the Legion d'Honneur. Engrossing from the first page, this is a fascinating story of a young woman's bravery and heroism as well as a story of romance and heartbreak. For women's studies, biography, and history collections. Mary Salony, West Virginia Northern Community Coll., Wheeling
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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This is truly an interesting read.
CookiesMom
Others have summarized the story; I will not but found it credible to a fault, and I am glad the author opened doors in many ways and let us follow.
Voice East
I just finished reading Tomorrow to Be Brave a few minutes ago.
Preacher Girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert K. Furrer on January 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Wow, what a life! Let's be thankful that there were people who kept insisting that Susan Travers' story be written while she was still alive. And thanks to Wendy Holden that story makes such fascinating reading that you find it hard to believe this is the story of a real life. I did not know much about the events of the Second World War that took place in Africa. So, while having been interested in the personal story of this fascinating woman, I got quite a bit more insight into the political events of that time as well. This part is definitely Wendy Holden's second major contribution.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Hugh M Frazer on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
You read this book and ask yourself, "Is this true, did this really happen?" But of course it's true. Only an honest person could bare their soul as does Susan Travers, with the brilliantly sensitive prose of co-author Wendy Holden.
The story is spell-binding as our heroine bounces from battlefield to boudoir with breathtaking élan. So many words fall short- courageous, brave, intrepid, relentless, passionate and others- as she and her fellow Legionnaires take their stand on faraway battlefields, most notably Bir Hakeim in the desolate desert of North Africa.
But the most appropriate word to describe ajudant-chef Travers is probably "driven". She sums it up on page 267 as she bids farewell to her dying father: "I'd spent so much of my life seeking his approval that having never really obtained it, his death only left me feeling more empty. Any chance to impress him now was gone and I felt cheated".
'Tomorrow To Be Brave' is a work and a life. It speaks for itself. This woman knows herself and to herself she is true. How ironic and poignant that the "driven" hero of Bir Hakeim was in fact a driver (chauffeur) in the French Foreign Legion. Susan dodges pot-holes and pot-shots as she valiantly drives her paramour, the General, through the desert sands. She is truly an "angel of mercy" as she man-handles her ambulance in the muddy mountains of Italy.
So much history. So much romance. So much intrigue. So much honest pride. So much heartbreak. It's all there. Who needs fiction with a story like this! A little knowledge of French is helpful but read it anyway even if you don't know what "ma cherie" means.
Bon courage, La Miss. Merci!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard Evans on September 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book shows quite clearly the prejudice within the hierarchy of the military, during the Second World War. Susan through sheer guts and determination overcame this with men of equal rank but continuously had to fight it not only with senior officers but also their wives. Her exploits showed her to be a woman of courage and determination. That courage was recognised by her achievement of receiving the highest medal that France had to offer. Her honour to the regiment and particularly to it's general is clearly shown as is their respect for her even though France did fail to respect her by refusing her a pension.
It is not a book for bedtime reading it is a must read for once you have picked it up you don't want to put it down.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brady L. Buchanan on August 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My wife read this first and urged me to read it also and am glad she told me. This book should hold you 'til the end as it has WW II action in the part of the world that was not as publicized as others; love stories that are heartfelt and point out the difference between men and women and a gutsy author who beat the probability of death many times. She was the only female in the French Foreign Legion and her tale is one you will not soon forget.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on February 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a student of military history. I read a good deal of stuff on the Second World War, studying various battles and campaigns. A few months ago I read John Bierman and Colin Smith's book on the battle of Alamein, and it included information about a woman who'd been in the French Foreign Legion, and served during the battle of Gazala as General Pierre Koenig's driver, enduring the bombardment and siege of Bir Hakeim. I was interested in this, and obtained a copy of the book. Whoa! Susan Travers, now in her 90's, has a story to tell.
The daughter of well-to-do English parents who lived in France for most of her adolesence, Travers spent most of the thirties on the continent, playing tennis, gambling, and cavorting with a series of lovers who were all uninterested in settling down with her. When World War II began, she decided to turn her independant streak (which had led to her learning to drive a car) into an asset, and join the armed forces, fighting for the Allies somehow. She wound up in the French army, trained as a nurse, drove an ambulance briefly in Finland, and then wound up in Africa.
There she served briefly in the campaign in Ethiopia, then was moved to Syria. Here, the doctor that she usually drove for was greviously wounded, and his replacement couldn't stand the thought of a female driver. He complained to his superior, and the next thing Travers knew she was driving for Pierre Koenig, who at the time was a colonel in the Free French army fighting in Syria. Soon the campaign was over, and Travers could set up house with the married Koenig for several months, because the colonel's wife was conveniently absent.
Their affair, however, had to remain secret for the most part. She stayed his driver when the unit he commanded was transferred to the Western Desert in Libya.
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