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Patton: A Biography (Great Generals) Paperback – January 6, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Generals
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230613926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230613928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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1 Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's a page turner, especially for a historical biography. Alan Axelrod consistently gets right to the point for the casual reader in describing the fascinating aspects of Patton.

I am reading next Ambrose's Supreme Commander on Eisenhower during WWII, and it provides an interesting contrast. I can see why Patton felt he did not receive the recognition or authority he deserved during WWII. Although Ambrose tries to portray Ike in early WWII as an astute, diplomatic leader, in fact Ike appears (at least until the Italian campaign) to be a get along kind of guy who the British probably feel they can influence. Others are not much better. British General "Monty" Montgomery is too conservative for fear of losing a battle and the reputation he built in his victory at El Alamein.

Patton is the clear winner in the European theater. Patton is the only US or British general who Hitler's team in WWII learns to fear. Patton is our most valuable general even when he is only a decoy. Without Patton, the war against Germany might have dragged on another year or worse. Without Ike, I am not so sure - I admittedly need to finish Supreme Commander, which unfortunately is a bit of a slog.

I just bought through Amazon a used paperback of Alexrod's Patton on Leadership, which unfortunately is not available on Kindle.
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