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Patton: Genius for War, A Paperback – September 27, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps the most renowned and controversial American general of the 20th century, George Patton (1885-1945) remains a subject of intense interest. D'Este (Decision in Normandy) provides new information from family archives and other sources about Patton's ancestry, childhood and pre-WWII military career. This includes his student years at West Point, his experience as a tank officer in WWI and various interwar staff assignments. The author emphasizes Patton's lifelong study and preparation for war and his conviction that God not only chose him specifically to lead an army but also stood ready to intervene to assure him battlefield victories. D'Este has much to say about Patton's impulsiveness, impatience and tactlessness, showing how these qualities often got him in trouble with the public as well as with his superiors. The account of Patton's campaigns from North Africa through Sicily, Normandy and the Ardennes enables the reader to understand why the general is regarded as one of the great military leaders. This is a major biography of a major American military figure. Illustrations.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


This is revisionism at its very best . . . -- The New York Times Book Review, Alistair Horne

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060927623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060927622
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Kevin F. Kiley on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
George Patton, a veteran of the Pershing expedition to Mexico in 1916 (where he killed three of Pancho Villas men, one a key subordinate, in a man to man gunfight), World War I (where he commanded the fledgling US Tank Brigade and was wounded and decorated for valor), and World War II, is one of the most misjudged and underrated combat commanders in American military history.
An expert tactician, strategist, and trainer, he was proud, profance, outspoken, a soldier's soldier, led from the front, shared his men's hardships, led was was undoubtedly the best American field army of the war, and was the only American general the Germans feared.
Carlo D'Este has written the definitive biography of this soldier and general, warts and all. He covers Patton's life from muzzle to buttplate, pulls no punches, and provides a human picture of a man that has definitely risen to legend.
The descendant and father of soldiers, Patton led his troops and units in the old army way. An experienced combat officer, he had more experience than either Eisenhower or Bradley, and was a better general than both as well as Montgomery.
This book has presented more information on Patton the man than any other. It is well-written, and riveting-you can't put it down. A moody, morose, devoted family man and dedicated soldier, Patton deserves more study, as do his campaigns. This book gets past the hype and delivers a solid punch as good, solid military history, and delivers the total picture of a man driven to be an aggressive, talented combat commander who knew his profession and contributed mightily to the final victory in World War II.
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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas E. Sarantakes on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Carlo D'Este, a military historian and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, has written an amazing study of an important American war hero. The reader will not only learn about military developments that led to allied victory, but they will also get a real feel for the amazing personality that was George S. Patton, Jr. Only a few biographies leave you with the feeling that you have personally met the subject. This book is one of them. Anyone considering taking on the work of becoming a biographer should read this book and use it as a model.
When most people think of Patton, they think of the 1970 film staring George C. Scott. D'Este knows this and begins his study with a chapter setting up this movie as a straw man. The film was extremely powerful, but it was ultimately a work of fiction and Omar Bradley, a general who despised Patton, played a large role in its production. D'Este also asks the simple but difficult questions of: who was the Patton. and why does he deserves another biography. The answer to these questions takes up 977 pages. We learn that the harsh, profane image he presented to his troops and the public was just that, an image. He was deeply religious, and was willing to take risks that only a man with the sincere believe that providence favored him would chance. He was extremely sensitive, loved poetry, understood what it took to send men into combat and was deeply troubled that soldiers under his command would die because of orders he gave. He was one of the best generals the allied coalition had and it was no accident. He had ability and worked hard at doing an extremely difficult job: killing.
The most significant factor in shaping Patton's life was his dyslexia.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Patton" A Genius for War " is an outstanding biography of General George S. Patton. After seeing some less than glowing critical reviews of this book, I was hesitant to read it, expecting it to be over-long, somewhat disjointed and unorganized. But, I plunged ahead anyway, and found the book to be a genuinely pleasant surprise - superbly written, richly detailed, balanced, and obviously well researched and organized. The portrait of Patton which emerges is that of a man destined for greatness on the field of battle from the beginning. Here is seen the scion of a Virginia family steeped in military tradition since the Civil War (two ancestors died as heroes to the Confederacy during that conflict). Here is the young man with a tremendous intellect and drive to succeed; suffering from, and successfully compensating for, dyslexia and feelings of inadequacy brought on by this disability. And, here is the army officer who believed he was destined for greatness, demonstrating a natural genius for war throughout his long military career; a highly patriotic, proud, and profane general, capable of quickly moving an entire army across Europe; yet afflicted with the hubris which ultimately led to his firing as Third Army commander at the end of World War II. "Patton: A Genius of War" is a wonderful biography of a highly complex and yet deeply flawed man. For readers interested in getting beyond the image of Patton presented by the movie, this book is a must read.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
ENN Book Review -05/12/97 - 22:00CDT

By C. L. Staten, EmergencyNet News Service

Shortly after my visit to the local hospital, and during a somewhat extended illness at home, I have had the good fortune to read a lengthy but very satisfying title by a retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. and military historian, Carlo D'Este. The subject of this biography is admittedly a personal hero and the subject of some deep reading on the part of this reviewer on several past occasions. In fact, at the onset of the manuscript, I wasn't sure what more there was to learn about George S. Patton, Jr.. Thankfully, D'Este's treatment of Patton is an amazingly well-balanced and unbiased analysis that will be regarded by some as a non-traditional treatment of the World war II hero.

This is a full-fledged portrait of Patton, from his childhood, through his military service, and up to and including his untimely death at the end of the war. It doesn't spare the reader the blemishes of Patton's life, nor an insightful analysis of his generally acknowledged military genius. Interestingly, this work actually explores the possibility that much of what Americans commonly know about George S. Patton Jr., including his infamous profanity, may have been a facade intended to fool others.

D'Este spends a great deal of time dwelling into the family and private life of Patton, as well as exploring some of the psychological implications of events that shaped his life. He correctly observes, that given Patton's parentage and upbringing that there are few other things that he could have been except a "warrior.
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