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The Patton Papers: 1940-1945
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Martin Blumenson's has created a fascinating and surprisingly readable biography of the World War II hero, General George Patton. Blumenson has taken the General's diaries, personal and official letters and combined them with letters written to him and newspaper articles written about him. These are arranged in chronological order.
The period covered by this book was the most active of Patton's lifetime. In the last three years of his life, Patton had adventures enough for several lifetimes. After playing a major part in the conquest of North Africa, then Sicily, Patton was sidelined for nearly a year after the slapping incidents. During this time a disinformation campaign was put forth to convince the Nazis that Patton would command a non-existent army group that was to invade the south of France. A month after D Day Patton took command of the recently formed Third Army and drove across Europe, playing a pivotal role in the Battle of the Bulge.
In this book, Blumenson splices together the actual documents written by and about Patton as the actual events unfolded. Despite being an amalgamation of material from so many different sources, the book reads like a novel. Blumenson very rarely adds his own editorial commentary. This is done in a way that enhances the flow of the narrrative. My only complaint is that it frequently is difficult to determine where these asides begin and end. This readability is what makes the book great and unique. Having read many other biographies that over-analyze and inject the authors' personal opinion into the narrative it is refreshing to simply have the facts laid out in front of you.
Patton had an amusing tendency to give sarcastic nicknames to his rivals and adversaries. Omar Bradley is "the tentmaker," both for his Arab name and his tendency towards caution, Eisenhower is "divine destiny" for his political ambitions. General W. Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's hated chief of staff, is variously referred to as Beadle and Beetle. At the same time he is privately mocking these people, Patton takes great pains to praise and flatter them publicly. He even admits to himself in his diary that he is a shameless bootlicker and rear-end kisser when necessary. Patton justifies his actions because he feels he must be a sycophant to fulfill his destiny of leading men in battle. Patton even advises his son (who was a West Point Cadet at the time) that the way to advancement at the Academy is to seek out the Commandant and Superintendent and suck-up to them and their wives as much as possible.
I had low expectations for this book. Every other collection of the letters of famous men I have read has been interesting in spots but unreadable as a whole.Even the famous collected letters of Pliny the Younger are mostly dreary reports to the emperor and uninteresting notes to friends. For Blumenson to have created such an entertaining and informative document from similar material is a remarkable achievement.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The Patton Papers (1940-1945) is actually part two of a two part series. While the first part covers the first 55 years of General George S. Patton's life this book details the period leading up to Americas involvement in WW II and takes the reader through all of Patton's ordeals. The Author, Martin Blumenson, has taken General Pattons own words from letters and diary entires to paint a wonderfully detailed portrait of Patton, not only as a military officer but as a human being. This book captures the true spirit of Patton. His ego-mania, his drive for success both on the battlefield and off, his sometimes paranoia about other officers, especially Montgomery. Patton was a very complex figure and no book that I have read really comes close to explaining his personality better than this one. Best of all, this book details his military genius, through all of World War II, including his end-run in France to liberate Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. What is also interesting is how Patton was unable to adapt to peace-time, leading to his dismissal as post-war occupational governor of Bavaria.
If you're interested in WWII and Patton intriques you as he does me, I would highly recommend this book. It truly gives you a great understanding of the man instead of the myth.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Martin Blumenson probably doesn't enough credit for stitching together the diaries of this amazingly complex man and military mind. Then again, it seems few if any have gained the unparalleled access to GSP Jr.'s letters and diaries. Taken of course in conjunction with Volume 1 (1885-1940), one sees a vivid picture of a tremendously gifted military man, a person so deeply spiritual in one moment, yet ravenous for the destruction of his enemies the next. Three things Blumenson highlighted that I found most thoughtful and salient: (1) Patton's deep, exacting grasp of military history -- seemingly, all the way back to when the first caveman bashed the other with a club; (2) his all-encompassing mantra of a self-destiny that must be fulfilled, and (3) how completely wedded he was to the dictum that the most disciplined and principled troops will win the day. Blumenson's work takes the common, two-dimensional mainstream picture of Patton -- slash-and-dash tank commander with a penchant for being a martinet -- and produces instead a tremendously deep, textured portrait of one of the most intriguing military figures of the century. Lastly, Blumenson's exacting eye gives the reader a strong rendition of the men of "The Greatest Generation" -- before they were called that -- through Patton's eyes and the man's devotion to his troops.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book gives the reader an insight into the way the war was fought and the personality of the main participants. General Patton's letters, both personal and professional, enable us to gain a window into the mind of a combat officer in the middle of a war. He also highlights the conflicts between the Allied forces and the American command structure, as well as the conflicts between the various senior Americans (Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges, ect...) The editor, Blumenson, gives the reader a picture of what was going on while Patton's letters were being written as well as the truth when the author was uninformed about something. (It's impossible to know every event during a war.) A great book that should be in every WWII historians library.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although a fan of General Patton, I hesitated to purchase this book. The title indicated a daunting book for reference only, rather than one for reading. But one shouldn't judge a book by its cover; I was wrong. "The Patton Papers" is surprisingly readable, and a must for anyone who would seek to understand this American hero. From diary entries to personal letters, Martin Blumenson weaves a fascinating story that makes one feel one is a part of the Seventh and Third Army staff! I recommend that you read a biography first ("Patton: A Genius for War" is excellent) so that you have an overview of Patton's life. A word of caution: reading this book will dampen your enthusiasm for the movie "Patton," as it makes clear the multitude of historical inaccuracies. A really great book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I saw what a project of a book this was at 857 pages, I wondered if I would ever get through it. It took no more than 15 or 20 pages to convince me that I would enjoy every page of it. This is a great read, especially if you are already a Patton fan. His diary entries and letters are honest and blunt, and offer great insights into Patton's winning style and strategy, his distaste for putting allied considerations over American interests, his frustrations with the press and his superiors, and his deep distrust of the Russians. Blumenson weaves these innumerable entries and letters into a seamless and easy-to-read narrative of Patton and his heroic exploits. Fans of the movie will love seeing lines taken word for word from his diary entries. I truly loved this book -- one of my favorite reads of all time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This second volume of his memoirs deals with World War II and the battles that made Patton a legend. Author Martin Blumenson lets, "Ol Blood and Guts," tell his own story through letters and official correspondence giving the reader an intimate view of the public and private man that captivated the world's attention for four years.

All of the big battles are here: "Torch" in North Africa; "Husky" in Sicily; "Cobra" in France and Bastogne which some call, "his finest hour." Patton played a key role in each of them. His tactics, featuring rapidly moving armor and mechanized infantry forces supported by mobile artillery and air wrote the book used for decades to come. However, he never overlooked the human element. Machines could never replace well trained and highly motivated soldiers personally led by competent commanders. His success was undeniable but he often proved to be his own worst enemy.

Patton's well known slapping of a shell shocked soldier followed by his unintended slight of our Soviet allies made headlines. Newsmen jumped at the opportunity to sell papers by printing anything controversial about a man whose name evoked emotional responses from friends and enemies alike. This was an "enemy" Patton couldn't comprehend. It was the one "fight" he was destined to lose.

General of the Army, Omar N. Bradley said in his book, A General's Life, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1983) ". . .I believe it was better for George Patton and his professional reputation to die when he did. . . . He was not a good peacetime soldier. . . In time he probably would have become a boring parody of himself-a decrepit, bitter, pitiful figure, unwittingly debasing the legend."

An unknown poet said it best:

"In times of danger, not before, God and soldiers all men adore. Danger's past and all is righted. God's forgotten, the soldier slighted."

No truer words could describe Patton's career. Relegated to a desk job; his primary function was to serve as grist for political and journalistic mills, a truly sad ending for an outstanding military career.

This work is an outstanding history of World War II and of the man himself. You can't call yourself a serious student of WWII unless you have read both volumes. A GREAT read. 5 stars!!

Harold Y. Grooms
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read both volumes of the Patton Papers and together they are an excellent history of America's greatest General flowing mostly from his hand (compiled by Martin Blumenson). For those of us to young to have lived during his time, reading what General Patton has written is invaluable. These books give this opportunity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Between the movie, which was paraphrased and influenced by outside forces, and other biographies which tend to bend the facts, The Patton Papers gives an eye opening look into the real George S. Patton Jr. in his own words. I have found new respect for Patton. I highly recommend reading this book for a clear account of the myriad of obstacles set in his way by both the British and our own command.
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on December 30, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As I was reading the Patton Papers, I kept in mind that there were a couple of books written that argue he was assassinated. One argued that he had discovered and halted the pilfering of German gold, and it was these interests that had him silenced. And even FNC host Bill OReilly wrote a book; though it was dissed by historians.

Patton's dairy entries in his last year while governor of Bavaria showed that this period frustrating and humiliating for him. He had great skepticism about the Russians whom he regarded as the greater enemy and advocated acting while the US still had a military and logistical advantage. He opposed US Jewish interests whom he felt had a stranglehold on US policy and forcing the actions on the German people intended to destroy them while handing their assets and political control over to communists Jews. He felt strongly about being ordered to abandon his Christian ethics to facilitate Jewish vengeance on the German people - whom Patton developed great respect for.

But the frustrations of occupation were just that - frustrations that would go away when he retired, resigned, or was reassigned. And his diary entries were peppered with self-questioning of this. He would constantly enter or write to his wife letters balancing those options. If he retired or took another assignment he was obliged to keep his mouth shut. But if he resigned, he would be free to express his opinions and observations. And the person he was talking about when he would mention these options was usually IKE.

Patton liked IKE as a friend, and IKE provided him cover a few times, but Patton did not respect IKE as a soldier and questioned the situation of his advancement. IKE was planning a future political career. Any non-constrained professional criticisms from someone as revered as Patton would have ended IKEs career. If there was any one person who had the most to benefit from a constrained Patton, it wax IKE. Further, IKE, as Patton's boss, had the power, authority, and cover of chaos in Europe to make something happen. He also had the support of other vulnerable generals who had felt the sting of Patton's criticisms.

Patton had written his wife that he was coming home for 30 days leave and was planning on not returning. He was hoping to get assigned to lead the War College, otherwise he was prepared to resign or retire. He told her that he had arranged to travel back by ship so that he could personally keep track of his several trunks of 'evidence'. But at the last minute he received orders to return by air and that he could have no more than 160-lbs of personnel effects. He had to go by car to give a speech, and this when a truck crashed into him creating the injuries that would kill him within the month. I don't know what happened to all of those trunks but I am very curios if they were shipped back to his estate. But, who knows if everything was shipped or not?
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