Books: The Red Berets

THE CENTURIONS (487 pp.)—Jean Larteguy—Dutton ($4.95).

Nearly every visitor to France has seen them: lean men in red berets, with open collars and rolled-up sleeves, who walk with the self-conscious swagger of a military elite. They are French paratroopers, who both defend De Gaulle's Fifth Re public and threaten to destroy it. This engrossing novel, by ex-Paratrooper Jean Lartèguy, 40, which has sold more than 400,000 copies in France, examines at length the fury and frustration animating this brotherhood.

From a Kafka Hell. The mystique of the paratrooper, says Author Lartèguy, was born in...

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