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War As I Knew It Paperback – May 8, 1995

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About the Author

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Rick Atkinson is the bestselling author of six works of narrative military history, including The Guns at Last Light, The Day of Battle, An Army at Dawn, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. He also was the lead essayist in Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery, published by National Geographic. He was a reporter, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and senior editor at The Washington Post for more than twenty years. His many awards include Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and history, the George Polk Award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He lives in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.liberationtrilogy.com.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Reissue edition (May 8, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395735297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395735299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 125 people found the following review helpful By T. Parry on February 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
"War As I Knew It" is not an autobiography. It is not a study of World War II. And it is not a doctoral dissertation. It is simply one of the greatest, most insightful accounts of the campaign in NW Europe, beautifully written by one of history's most charismatic and successful generals.
The book begins with a collection of open letters written by Patton during the time of his campaigns in North Africa and Sicily. For cesnorship reasons, these letters do not contain much battle information, but they provide a unique insight into the man Patton was, and how he dealt with problems that were not military in nature. He discusses his meeting with French and Arab leaders in attempts to protect his rear while he defeated the Germans to his front. The letters from Sicily are similar, discussing not so much tactics but outcomes, reactions, and the like. These early letters show how much Patton was moved around, and the interesting places that he visited.
The main part of the book covers Patton's proudest moments--commanding the U.S. Third Army. This section is wholly unique. Written shortly after they campaign ended with Germany's surrender, Patton describes the actions of Third Army from Normandy to Czechoslovakia. While he does not go into great detail about tactics and such, he provides a window into his own mind. The reader knows what he was thinking when he made his decisions, and the reasons that he made those decisions. In so doing, the reader gets a firm understanding of how an army worked in WW II. Also, he mentions his personal relationships with many different generals...ones you don't read about in history books. In short, this is a first hand account from the man who was a pure warrior.
The concluding section is Patton's gift to future leaders.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By William L. Gilstrap on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book is composed of excerpts from the diaries of General Patton. It isn't the complete diaries but is fun and interesting. It's good to read something, in his own words, of how the general actually thought. It seems that General Patton had intended to write a book called "War as I Knew It". He didn't live long enough after the war to get it done. He does expound some about his philosophies and why he put on his war face to give the impression of being hard boiled, when in many ways he was very sentimental. He did not want to get soldiers killed needlessly. He made the "tough guy" act in order to inspire his men and psych them up for the job they had to do. His rough, hard, & extremely thorough training made his troops among the best-trained and combat ready troops in the army. The hard training was to condition and train the men to know what to expect and how to react so they would not get killed for lack of condition or not knowing what to do. General Patton's biggest problem, not controlling what he said in public, is not treated very much in this book. His war principals are outlined at the end of the book. It's a rather short read and quite entertaining.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By john purcell on December 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
General George S. Patton, Jr.'s diaries and letters were assembled into this book in 1947, two years after his death. His widow Beatrice Ayer Patton served as a capable editor. This edition has some new material and was reprinted in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of V-E day.
Unfortunately with Patton's premature and unusual death in December 1945, (calm yourselves, conspiracy theorists) the post-war world lost its opportunity for the war's greatest memoir and its most unpredictable political leader. War As I Knew It is the next best thing, a full account of the leadership and strategic thinking of our greatest warrior.
Readers will travel with Patton from his arrival in North Africa in 1943, through the campaigns in Sicily, Western France, Belgium, the Bulge, and ending in May 1945 in Austria. Lesser known events are related such as the initial fighting with the French in Africa. In many cases, Patton revisits towns and territory that he had first seen as a young officer in the First World War.
Surprisingly, the book is also full of humorous stories such as unusual encounters with African tribal leaders, British generals, and French politicians. Cameo appearances include Marlene Dietrich, General T. Roosevelt (son of the President, who participated in the Normandy Invasion), and historical figures like William the Conquerer who influenced Patton's tactics.
Patton greatly plays down the events that led to his downfall, only briefly mentioning the slapping incidents, although he does make a very forceful argument that malingerers are a great threat to morale and need to be punished with extreme measures.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
A great book even after all those years. The reader gets a pretty good impression of Patton's personality an his way of thinking. The first part of the book covers his experiences in Northern Africa and Sicily from 1942 on. Besides the military aspects he describes how he learned to know the local cultures and we are reminded how well educated he was in some other sciences than war. The second and biggest part deals with the operations conducted by his Third Army from France to Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria. Very informative are his views of Eisenhower, Bradley and Montgomery as well as the German side especially concerning the Battle of the Bulge. The third part is a personal view of tactics, the military generally and his career. All in all a great book for people interested in military history as well as leadership. A little drawback, as in many books covering military history, is the lack of good maps, the few maps in the book only give a very general impression of the campaigns.
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