After his military service, Lartéguy worked as a war correspondent, particularly for the magazine Paris Match. He covered conflicts in Azerbaijan, Korea, Palestine, Indochina, Algeria, and Vietnam. In pursuit of a story at the start of the Korean War, Lartéguy volunteered for the French Battalion and was wounded by an enemy hand grenade during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. In Latin America, he reported on various revolutions and insurgencies, and in 1967 encountered Che Guevara shortly before his capture and execution. In the July 1967 issue of Paris Match, Lartéguy wrote a major article entitled "Les Guerilleros", where he wrote: "At a time when Cuban revolutionaries want to create Vietnam's all over the world, the Americans run the risk of finding their own Algeria in Latin America."
In 1955, he received the Albert Londres Prize for journalism
His experiences as a soldier and war correspondent influenced his writing. Some of the most emphasized topics in his writing are decolonization, nationalism, the expansion of Communism, the state of post-war French society, and the unglamorous nature of war. His novel Les chimères noires evokes the role played by Roger Trinquier during the Katanga Crisis. Published in 1963 it portrays vividly the chaos of civil war in the Congo after the murder of Patrice Lumumba and the conflict between Moise Tshombe secessionist government and the United Nations Forces. The novel is very critical of Belgian colonialism and is also a reliable expression of European views of Central Africa after independence. Several of his book titles were translated into English, with the most successful being his Algerian War series: The Centurions and The Praetorians. The former was adapted into a major motion picture in 1966, entitled Lost Command and starred Anthony Quinn.
Also, with his novel The Centurions, Lartéguy is credited with being the first to envision the 'ticking time bomb' scenario, which has regained relevance in recent debates on the use of torture in a counter-terrorism role. His novels have been read by military professionals, including General David Petraeus, in the new context of modern terrorism.
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