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Patton: A Biography (Great Generals) First Edition Edition

33 customer reviews
ISBN-10: 1403971390
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gen. George Patton, "a great and flawed figure" who still elicits strong feelings, makes an excellent choice for the initial volume in Palgrave's Great Generals series. Axelrod, a prolific business writer and historian (Patton on Leadership; Elizabeth I, CEO), delivers a solid if brief introduction to Patton's life and career. Seeking a "balanced appreciation" of Patton, Axelrod focuses on the contradictions that make the general such a controversial figure. A tactical genius who was instrumental in pioneering the concepts of modern maneuver and combined arms warfare, Patton often struggled to control his own personal demons and emotions. Thus, the man who conquered Sicily and turned "a stunning catastrophe" into an equally stunning victory at the Battle of the Bulge once set off a media storm—and was sidelined by General Eisenhower for 11 months—after he assaulted two soldiers suffering from battle fatigue. Restless in peace, the man who Eisenhower observed was "born to be a soldier," was killed in an automobile accident in occupied Germany in 1946. Axelrod has captured Patton's checkered legacy in a balanced biography suitable for anyone looking for a concise introduction to the commander German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt pronounced the Allies' best. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

George S. Patton, aka "Old Blood and Guts," inaugurates Palgrave's Great Generals series, with Grant, Eisenhower, and World War II bombardier Curtis LeMay to follow. Axelrod's profile relays one truth about Patton: there is no moderate opinion about him. Vainglorious and courageous, militarily intelligent but politically obtuse, outwardly confident but wracked with self-doubt, Patton was one of those warriors a democracy needs in a crisis but finds useless in peace. Even in the army, Patton stood out for his fascination with military sumptuary and protocol: his polished helmet, pearl-handled revolvers, and profanity were both the act and the essence of the man, just as impersonated for the mass audience by actor George C. Scott. Axelrod efficiently backgrounds the youthful and midlife arc of Patton's determination to be a conspicuous leader or die in the attempt, illustrating the latter with Patton's valor in World War I. This able abstract may whet readers' appetites for more full-bodied biographies by Carlo d'Este and Stanley Hirshson. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Great Generals (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403971390
  • ASIN: B002YX0FTW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Edwin B. Burgess on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This compact biography of an already well-documented life is interesting for its attempt to place Patton in the context of his dramatic effect on the U.S. Army's doctrine, training, and operations long after World War II. No startling revelations about Patton the general or the man, although the author does bluntly describe attitudes and prejudices that at this remove are repugnant but which were entirely expectable for a man of Patton's social class and upbringing. Axelrod, a professional author of well over 30 books, provides readable prose and workmanlike descriptive material. General Wesley Clark's forward adds little. Extensive endnotes, mainly of primary sources. Although not a substitute for the Blumenson or D'Este biographies, it is much more concise and accessible. First in Palgrave's Great Generals Series. Series editor is Clark. A good introduction to Patton.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on April 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
General Eisenhower once wrote that "Patton was born to be a soldier." Axelrod's biography makes it clear why this was true, while at the same time revealing the weaknesses that sorely cost Patton.

George Patton, plagued by dyslexia throughout life, simply worked harder to overcome it - at first in his studies (requiring a "preparatory" year at VMI, and repeating his first year at West Point), and then reading to keep himself up-to-date on military tactics and history - including Rommel's writings and the Koran (the latter to prepare for battle in largely Muslim North Africa).

Patton was appointed 2nd Corporal his second year at West Point, but eventually was demoted for being a martinet - always quick to upbraid classmates for failings, but failing to praise when appropriate. It was a lesson he kept with him, reminding subordinates later to be both demanding and praising. Lean and fit, he tried football, but injuries prevented his playing for West Point - instead he became a pentathlon athlete - placing 5th in the 1912 Olympics.

Patton always pursued a preference for commanding soldiers in action to staff or stateside duties. This early on brought him into service with General Pershing, where he won acclaim in a small skirmish pursuing Pancho Villa and ultimately to Pershing's staff in WWI. Once in Europe, Patton became aware of the potential of tanks, was appointed to organize officer training in the new field, and took to the battlefield in their command. Their he demonstrated his trademark tactic of leading from the front - immediately resolving problems and motivating the soldiers, and was wounded. Just as importantly, Patton also realized that it was a mistake to limit tanks to supporting infantry - their speed offered much greater potential.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have pointed out, there are a number of excellent biographies out there covering the life of General Patton. This short work though, does a wonderful job of compacting a very large amount of informaton into a short, readable biography. The author is quite concise and the material very well organized. For those readers not wanting to delve into a 1000 plus page work, yet are interested in this great generals life, this quite fills the bill. The technical aspect of war is kept to a minimum, yet the author is able to convey the complexities of war quite well as well as the complexities of George S. Patton. I do hope the rest of the books in this series are as well done. Overall, recommend this one highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 26, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I feel a bit funny giving a 3 star rating to a book about a 4 star General. Anyway, Patton by Alan Axelrod is a more interesting book than his book on General Omar Bradley. Perhaps the two men are so very different that Axelrod was forced to write a rather dull account of Bradley's life but a much more lively account of Patton's life.

This book was less of a biography and more of a series of diary and letter quotes with respect to the timeline of events in Patton's life. Since much of the book's contents were created by Patton, you are left with a stronger connection to what he was thinking at the time of these events. (The Bradley book was mostly a biography from the "outside" of what was happening)

I was pleased to get a slightly different spin on some of the events of which Patton is so famous. Granted that you are mostly getting Patton's "spin" on things, it is still a valid point of view. I will give credit to Axelrod for presenting a well balanced story with clear distinction between Patton's thoughts and those of others.

I can recommend this book. It is a good study of an important person in our history
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Yu on January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book covers the life and times of George S. Patton from his childhood to death, and the period covering WW2, after taking over in North Africa reads like a script right out of the memorable movie. Scenes and quotations are replicated almost exactly.

Patton is usually compared to Rommel, due to their brief clash in North Africa and by the time Patton was in France, poor Rommel was doomed by the failed Valkrie plot, so his actual counterpart in the Werhmacht should be Guderian. They both championed the newly developed tanks and recognized their potential in attacking instead of simply supporting the infantry. Both drew up plans for blitzkrieg-like strategies, although the US had nothing compared to the fearful, deadly Stukas.

Interestingly,his 11 month suspension for slapping the two soldiers (which had shocked the Germans as well as the Russians), probably costed the US Army many thousands of men, because it can be argued that his aggressiveness was sorely missed and the war might have ended in late 1944.

This is a fair portrayal of the ultimate warrior and military genius, and it also depicts his many weaknesses, including the childhood learning disabilities, which dogged him thru life and how he overcame them by relentlessly driving himself to succeed and fulfill his destiny. This desire to overcome limitations and immense fear of failure was what was behind his harsh treatment of insubordinates and hostile opinion of his superiors.

Another great contribution to US military literature by Mr. Axelrod.
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