1st Edition

Foreign Fighters and Multinational Armies From Civil Conflicts to Coalition Wars, 1848-2015

Edited By Steven O’Connor, Guillaume Piketty Copyright 2022
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book showcases new historical research on foreign soldiers, including an overview of the early modern period and numerous case studies which cover the last 175 years and stretch over 5 continents.

    The last two decades have seen the term ‘foreign fighter’ enter our everyday vocabulary. The insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Syrian Civil War and the rise and fall of the Islamic State group have sparked public interest in the phenomenon of people choosing to leave their own country and fight in a foreign conflict. Foreign fighters, their origins, motives, activities and potential danger to their home countries have become subjects of debate, attracting contributions from politicians, military personnel, the media, political scientists, legal scholars but to a much lesser extent from historians. The ten essayss in this volume showcase new historical research on foreign military labour.

    The aim of the volume is to better understand the experiences and challenges faced by both the foreigners and the host country, particularly its armed forces, and to highlight the significance of these trends to the contemporary debate on foreign fighters.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the journal European Review of History.

    Introduction – Foreign fighters and multinational armies: from civil conflicts to coalition wars, 1848–2015

    Steven O’Connor and Guillaume Piketty

    PART I: The impact of foreign soldiers and foreign fighters

    over the Longue Durée

    1. Foreign military labour in Europe’s transition to modernity

    Peter H. Wilson

    2. Workers of the world, unite! Communist foreign fighters 1917–91

    David Malet

    3. Foreign fighters and war volunteers: between myth and reality

    Nir Arielli

    PART II: The motivations and experiences of foreign fighters

    4. Why they fought: the initial motivations of German American soldiers who fought for the Union in the American Civil War

    Anthony J. Cade II

    5. ‘Me among the Turks?’: Western commanders in the Late Ottoman Army and their self-narratives

    Houssine Alloul

    6. ‘The recognized adjunct of modern armies’: foreign volunteerism and the South African War

    Wm. Matthew Kennedy and Chris Holdridge

    7. Fear and Loathing in Spain. Dutch Foreign Fighters in the Spanish Civil War

    Samuël Kruizinga

    PART III: The nature of coalition warfare during the Second World War

    8. ‘Not on a purely nationalistic basis’: the internationalism of Allied coalition warfare in the Second World War

    Th. W. Bottelier

    9. The Free French and British forces in the Desert War, 1942: the learning curve in interallied military cooperation

    Steven O’Connor

    10. The Palestinian triangle: Czechoslovaks, Jews and the British Crown in the Middle East, 1940–1943

    Paul Lenormand


    Steven O’Connor is Lecturer in British History and Institutions at Sorbonne University, Paris, France. His research focuses on coalition warfare, 1914-1945, the integration of non-British soldiers in the British army and Irish military history. He previously published Irish Officers in the British Forces, 1922-45 (2014).

    Guillaume Piketty is Full Professor in History at Sciences Po, Paris, France. His research focuses on the social and cultural history of World War II in France and Europe, and, more broadly, on war, resistance, coming out of war and society since the beginning of the US Civil War.