The Sahara was the missing link in France's African Empire.
The Sword and the Cross is the story of two fanatical adventurers who helped complete their country's imperial conquest. Viscomte Charles de Foucauld was a sensualist who lounged in bed eating foie gras with a silver spoon.
Henri Laperrine was a stern perfectionist who lived only for soldiering.
Each of them found his vocation in the desert: Foucauld found religion and an asceticism so great that even Trappism seemed too comfortable; Laperrine formed a legendary camel corps to pursue the Tuareg nomads across the desert.
By 1910, the Sahara had been won - but as Europe lurched towards war in the years after, both men were to pay a terrible price.
Weaving together hatred and friendship, self-sacrifice and utter self-delusion, The Sword and the Cross is a brilliant story of a forgotten episode in Europe's colonial history.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 368 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 06/05/2004
- Category: Biography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9780571221899