Rights offering detail :
Escaping the Amazon: A South African Quits the French Foreign Legion, Cheats Death, and Finds Redemption
Apr. 12, 2018
Alex de Bruyn with Jaime Salazar
Non-fiction: Memoir
Kosta, the drug boss sat in his leather chair, pointing his polished Zastava pistol at me. I was nearing the point where Christ, our Lord, began sweating blood. He slowly touched the muzzle squarely on my forehead and asked me if I understood. I nodded. Joining the Foreign Legion was the least of my worries. Simply escaping the jungle with my life seemed a faint possibility!

Of all the worlds’ militaries, past and present, there is no other corps of fighting men that is more surrounded by mystery, romance and admiration, than the French Foreign Legion. King Louis Philippe II created the Foreign Legion in 1831, as a way to rid France of penniless immigrants and other “undesirables” considered a liability to the French establishment. The Foreign Legion still exists today, as an elite army of modern mercenaries from around the world.

Considered a haven for the dregs of society, joining the Foreign Legion was rumored to be simple. It wasn’t. Getting out of the Foreign Legion, as Alex de Bruyn soon realized firsthand, proved to be impossible. So, what was a privileged heir of distinguished white South African merchants doing in the “Legion of the Damned”? He had only two reasons for joining. Alex wanted to create a meaningful life by risking losing it. In doing so, he wanted to redeem himself as a Christian, through corporeal suffering. After surrendering his passport to the Legion and with it, any human rights, the Legion gave Alex a new name, date and place of birth—a new life. Alex de Bruyn no longer existed!

Even after finishing his first four months of what the Legion calls instruction, Alex realized that his existence wasn’t like that of adventurer Bear Grylls in Man vs Wild, rather, a cruel and primitive life of forced marches, fanatical discipline, and sadistic NCOs. Young men from distant shores looking for a new beginning come to the Legion, but only the toughest, cruelest and perhaps stupidest are left to wear the Legion headdress, the képi blanc. Many, like Alex, were shipped to the jungle, never to be seen again.

Once enlisted, there are three ways to leave the Legion: finishing one’s five-year contract, disability, or leaving in a coffin. While serving with the Legion’s rogue and unsupervised Amazon jungle regiment in French Guiana, Alex came up with a forth solution—escape. Yet, he had no passport, or money, but only a steely will to rid himself of the fire-breathing Legion. He spent six months planning and executing his Papillon-esque escape via boat. After several unsuccessful attempts, he landed up in a Surinamese prison, stared down Caribbean drug bosses at gunpoint, and starved in the middle of the ocean with scant provisions on a leaky sailboat. After barely avoiding being “Shanghaied” into forced drug-running conscription by Surinamese gangsters, Alex managed a second hair-raising escape. By the grace of God did he barely manage to sail to friendly lands and win his freedom.

Today Alex de Bruyn sits comfortably in his native South Africa as he reflects on his book Escaping the Amazon: A South African Quits the French Foreign Legion, Cheats Death, and Finds Redemption, which documents his white-knuckled adventure. For this project Alex has teamed up with Jaime Salazar, a fellow former-legionnaire who is author of the 2005 memoir, Legion of the Lost, which was reviewed favorably in the New York Times.
Rights available:
World Rights
Leticia Gomez
Savvy Literary Services
phone: 281-465-0119
3 Griffin Hill Ct., The Woodlands, TX 77382
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