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20th Century Beau Geste [Hardcover]

Percival Wren
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2019 Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
Three noble English brothers battle a sadistic sergeant, fight violent desert tribes in North Africa, and unravel the mystery of a stolen jewel.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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About the Author

Percival Wren (1875–1941) was a British writer, mostly of adventure fiction, who is remembered best for Beau Geste, a much-filmed book involving the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, and its sequels, Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal.

A highly respected and enthusiastic audiobook narrator, David Case specialized in creating unique and interesting character voices. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite adventure book from all time! Dec 12 2003
My favourite adventure book from all time... 8 November, 2003
Let's be fair, I am very biased in favor of it, so you are in for a very one-sided opinion... If you have seen the film (wathever the one, either the one with Ronald Colman (seems is good but very hard to find), the one with Gary Cooper&Ray Milland is I think the best known... and do not miss the excellent miniseries by the BBC...)OK, enough about films!
The films are good but tend to miss the point completly, I acknowledge is very difficult to adapt a novel to film, but in this special case (even if it has been done brilliantly) THEY DO NOT DO JUSTICE TO THE BOOK...
So, I must recommend to you to read the book and judge for yourself... if delighted follow on with "Beau sabreur", "Beau Ideal", "Good Gestes" and "Spanish Maine"...
Actually the prejudice shown by P.C.Wren to italians, spaniards and specially germans HAS TO BE READ IN CONTEXT, it has not in the least provoked the book to be a flop in those countries (but sure it has not help it to be a success either...).
P.C.Wren did not like very much other races (see his works set in India and you'll understand the comment...) and his prose tends to be a little "British race superior" infected, well if you are british probably THAT will no bother you at all mind... but even if not british at all YOU WILL DELIGHT IN THE DEFENSE OF THE VALUES OF BROTHERLY LOVE; HONOR, DUTY, FRIENDSHIP ETC, wich are quite international do not forget...
I am against revealing plots, there are a lot of other reviewer who do, I am just satisfied to tell you I have read this book countless times and still remains in my top one for all times...
A huge P.C.Wren fan since childhood (I think I read "Beau Geste" for the first time when I was nine years old...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as its reputation Sept. 22 2003
I don't share most reviewers' enthusiasm for Percival Wren's book. The framework story unfolds at a painfully slow pace and the adventurous part of recruitment, training and life of the Geste brothers in the Foreign Legion is not broad enough.
Too bad, because the French Foreign Legion, shrouded in the myth of secrecy and adventure, fascinates many to this day (including myself) and deserves to be object of a more suspenseful novel. The Foreign Legion garrison heroically defending Fort Zinderneuf against the Arabic attacks is undoubtedly the most memorable image of Wren's story. It is at the heart of the adventure for which the book is famous and Wren deserves the credit for the idea. But he spends too much time on minor characters and inconsequential dialogue. The characters are awfully stereotypical (the cunning and deceitful Italians, the brutal and primitive Germans, the noble and chivalrous English, the lighthearted and naïve Americans and the greedy and egotistical French - oh brother).
Maybe many book reviewers are influenced by the great movie from 1939 (with Gary Cooper and Ray Milland). It is pretty true to the novel but focuses on the part of the story I was looking for and is well paced. In Wren's book, you have to read through more than 100 pages of turgid story telling before the Geste brothers even get to the Foreign Legion. Its longwinded explanations and speculations on the characters' motivation and the possible outcome of the inherent intrigues seem terribly old fashioned for the 21st century reader. This shortcoming of Wren's story telling ability diminishes the enjoyment of the book. Wren is no Alexandre Dumas who can write a novel of 1400 pages ("The Count of Monte Cristo") and still make it easy reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Action adventure at its best July 17 2003
I had seen many of the movies as a kid, so I thought I should get the rest of the story by reading the book. Well, I was delightfully surprised by the book. The book was much more mysterious and intriguing then the movies.
I liked the way the plot developed but the brothers seemed to age a lot more or maybe just matured more as the book went on. When you first meet them in Beau Geste and his band everyone comes across as if they were teenagers but within a couple of days after the disappearance of the blue water when the brothers join the legend you find out that they are all in their early 20s. The time in the legend seems longer too like almost 4 years but at the end of the story it's about half as long as that.
The one thing about the version of the book I was reading which was the one with the pictures from the 1926 film was that there were no maps. So what I did was as I followed the brothers I would go on mapquest and print a map of the area and trace their route. Then I would fold it and keep it at that point in the book. I like the fact that they kept many of the terms in the native tongue. I have word and there are these downloads free from Microsoft that you can download so that you can translate in to many different languages. Between making the maps and figuring out the translations it made the book much more adventurous for me.
I did not know much about the history of Algeria and I did not realize that the French had fought with the Arabs in Northern Africa for many generations. The Arabs are pretty stereotyped but there is the fact that the brothers learn Arabic to keep their minds sharp and this helps them down the road. I did not realize that Arabic languages were spoken all along North Africa and that it is mostly dessert.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beau Geste
A good book about adventure, brotherhood and life in the French Foreign Legion. A classic for the time written that transcends the literary world and cultures.
Published on May 18 2012 by Don Griffis
4.0 out of 5 stars Action adventure at its best
I had seen many of the movies as a kid, so I thought I should get the rest of the story by reading the book. Well, I was delightfully surprised by the book. Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by A. A Slezak
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books you re-read from time to time
Seems like every few years I sit down and read this book again. There is enough adventure to keep me interested in each re-reading and each time I pick up more little clues in... Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2002 by Carolina
4.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Foreign Legion Novel
After all these years this book is still a classic of its kind. A bit slow in the beginning, Wren's writting rewards persistence as the characters begin to grow on the reader. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2002 by Roger Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Yarn
Beau Geste must rank very high with other all time great adventure novels. It has everything! Roamance, adventure,French foreign legionares, sadistic Sargeants, cut throat... Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by Vijay B. Kumar
5.0 out of 5 stars truly thrilling
Somehow I doubt that the generation of kids growing up today, whelped on Doom and Lara Croft, have the same romantic love of the French Foreign Legion that we did when we were... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2001 by Orrin C. Judd
3.0 out of 5 stars adventure and mystery in the Legion Etranger
_Beau Geste_ represents some of the finest pulp fiction of the eighteenth century. The story is tightly told and compelling; the mystery is fun. Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999 by Al Kihano
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Foreign Legion Action Adventure Novel!
I enjoyed every minute of this book! I started to get into Foreign Legion stuff a couple of months back and I wondered if there was a story about the Legion or something like it. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read this book ten times, and am still not tired of it.
This is a terrific novel. The first 20 pages are stuffy. But after the slow beginning Wren quickly moves into the action and intrigue, which don't let up until after you've put... Read more
Published on May 5 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars I've never read anything like it!
I say that this is the best book I have ever read; I have never read anything like it. Here brothers live and fight together, and die for each other. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 1998
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