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Patton: A Genius for War
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Patton: A Genius for War

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  3,587 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Based on exclusive access to his personal and public papers, and with the full cooperation of his family, Patton is an intimate look at the colorful, charismatic, and sometimes controversial man who became the one general the Germans respected and feared the most during World War II. Photos.
Paperback, 1024 pages
Published September 27th 1996 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
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Janine Urban
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Where do I start?! Killing a gang member and tying his corpse to the hood of his car, slapping two soldiers in Sicily for being cowards, urinating in the Rhine. Sitting in the front row of a pew in church with a watch timing a chaplain's sermons when he said they should be no more than ten minutes. Exploits to get gas for his tanks. Repeatedly told his troops that if they failed he did not want see them alive. Soldiers would kidnap his dog in the middle of the month when they ran short of money ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding 1996 biography, written so as to truly bring Patton to "life" for the reader. Though very long, there would be no way to cut it shorter without damaging the portrait of this soldier. Since I served in his Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge and onward east until we met with the Russians, it meant a great deal to me on the personal front.

He wrote poetry, he cried much and often, he read Thucydides, he road horses all his life - and fell off them, he often prayed in church, h
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Liked the movie? This book is so much deeper and more interesting than any film. Patton himself is so much more than George C. Scott could portray in film. D'Este captures the many sides of Patton. I appreciated, too, that D'Este recognizes that his family was a part of who he was, so his wife is not left out. I found her to be every bit as admirable as the General.
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
George Smith Patton Jr was a man of many contrasts and many faces. He was an insecure dyslexic, obsessed with his glorious ancestors, a brash martinet, a genus of menouvre and made impulsive, reckless speeches that required his friends to get him out of trouble on frequent occasions (not that he was ever grateful).

This is a fine biography of a very complex man. Lt Col Carlo D'Este walks the difficult line of showing Patton as a great war leader and a poor politician and an impulsive man.

It is in
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Packed with information but very readable. Patton was an arrogant, violent, self-absorbed asshole, that's for sure, but the United States was very lucky to have him. In that regard the title of the book describes him best. Actually, Patton had a soft side, especially for his dog, Willie. Much to Patton's chagrin, "William the Conqueror," turned out to be a coward, but Patton dearly loved that dog, even curling up with him every night. One of the most poignant pictures associated with Patton is t ...more
Gerry Germond
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a big, thorough biography, covering both the general’s achievements and blunders. I think the author is mostly a “Pattonphile,” but he does not cover up or gloss over Patton’s deficiencies and blunders. Myself, I wish there were more details on the campaigns. Exactly what did he do, what tactics did he employ, how did he train his soldiers to accomplish his and their victories? That, however, may well double the size of already a large book (and a good read). The author uses many sources ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a priceless biography, and it far and away dominates the field. Carlo D'Este had the capacity to capture the whole person including Patton's fascinating spiritual dimension, which hinged on a dual devotion to the Bible and the Bhagavadgita. He understood like no other that it was his dharma to be a soldier, and he was going to be the best soldier he could be, without holding back.

More than anything his spirtual experience on the battle field at St. Mihiel in WW1 was a pivotal expience, i
Donald Kirch
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful look at a man who was always the professional soldier with a warrior-poet's heart.
“The end of war is, in short, a sort of massive hangover, a culture shock that often manifests itself in antisocial behavior, alcoholism, and severe depression.” A quote located on page 268 of this book. This was a statement that the author placed upon the conclusion of Colonel George S. Patton’s experience of the First World War. At the conclusion of the Second World War that same depressive feeling that Patton had in November 1918 would be only expounded exponentially in November of 1945.

Daniel Ligon
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good biography of a very complicated and fascinating figure in American military history. This book is surprisingly not boring or too overly detailed given its nearly 1,000 page length. The author presents Patton as a man who lived, breathed and thought almost solely of war and the glory inherent in it. While a great military leader and an innovative tactician, Patton was no doubt in many respects a man out of his time who might have felt more comfortable charging up the slopes at Gettysburg o ...more
Steph (loves water)
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome! My son, a big Patton fan and WW2 buff, twisted my arm to get me to read this and I am so glad that I did! What an amazing story,and an amazing man! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history!
The best biography I read so far this year.
I'm torn as to how to rate this book. Carlo D'Este has done a masterful job bringing to life the iconic Patton: the picture of this man presented here is truly nuanced and carefully drawn. Told in brilliant prose, D'Este was able to balance skillfully historical meticulousness with smooth and compelling narrative. Although, truth be told, even though it didn't get mind-bogglingly detailed, the battle parts were hard for me to get through (I'm not terribly interested in the movements of armies or ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I recently rewatched the bio-pic 'Patton' staring George C. Scott. The bombastic, comic-tragic, larger than life character in the movie was all I knew of Patton. I was intrigued and surprised to learn that Omar Bradly served as a consultant on the movie and that he hated Patton. I wanted to go get a deeper and, hopefully, unbiased, picture of Patton.

This weighty tome is reputed to be the authoritative biography of Patton. I am not familiar with the range of Patton biographies that are available
Scott Pierce
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The definitive Patton biography, and written in an engaging style. Before returning to West Point, Patton wrote himself guidance that made it clear he sought the heroic life, did not fear death, and believed himself capable of immense deeds. He had read deeply, with a lot of Homer, and also of Frederick the Great imploring his men, "Come on men, do you want to live forever."

After WWI, Patton, while still fascinated by the horse cavalry, recognized the need for the tank to both break through, and
Don Davidson
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just an outstanding book on the man, George Patton. The author's research is impressive, and his writing is fair and balanced. He gives you both the hero and the flawed human being, worts and all. This is not the Patton of the movie, but a well-rounded presentation of the man--not only what he was really like, but the background details that help you understand why he was that way. This is quite a long book because it is so well researched and there is much ground to cover--including Patton's ch ...more
Nicky Billou
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A majesterial book, the definitive biography of America's greatest fighting general, the only Allied commander the Nazis truly feared.

He presciently warned us about the Soviet threat post WW II and was rewarded for his prescience by being sacked.

In a decidedly unmasculine age, every man seeking to understand his own masculinity would do well to read about Patton, and learn from his example.
John Minster
A wonderful and complex portrait of the most colorful of all WWII generals. D'Este doesn't hesitate to credit Patton for his glories and criticize him for his errors; the only particular narrative he pushes is that of a great, but more complicated man than what initially appears. I could have used more about Patton's actual battle tactics, yet the man himself is so fascinating I don't much care.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book, fascinating person.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent biography, and a caution against letting popular culture, even good popular culture dictate our opinion of historical figures. There is much more to Patton than even hinted at in the movie.
Jordan Kinsey
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“820-page, flashlight-worthy page-turner” is not something one typically experiences, and yet here we are...

Wow. What a story.
Carl R.
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Phew--what a way to start the year. I like to average an entry a week, and it’s been a month since the last one because this book was muddy going. Not the subject. Not even the writing. But Patton--A Genius for War is 820 dense pages that covers every aspect of the man’s life and nature from infancy to death. Good thing he didn’t survive longer than he did (1895-1945), or Carlo D’Este might have kept me reading until Easter. Following close upon the rather difficult Einstein bio, I’m ready for a ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Patton" has what I've come to expect from Carlo D'Este, as it presents both a nuanced look at Patton along with an insightful analysis of the campaigns with which he was involved. I read only the last 2/3rds of the book, from Kasserine in Tunisia through Patton's death. So at this point I've read some 800 pages by D'Este, and I'd jump at the opportunity to read more of his prose. I can think of no higher praise.
FINAL: A most satisfying summer 2009 giant read. Impeccably and thoroughly researched. It digs deeply into its subject and gives a rounded and human portrait of a man who seemed larger than life and iconic and perhaps distant. "Old Blood and Guts" becomes flesh and blood in D'Este's capable hands. It's a grand portrait of an extraordinary individualist operating at the highest level in the most regimented and least individualistic of enterprises: the military. It tunnels into Patton's past, fami ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a massive biography of General George Patton (820 pages of text, and more pages of footnotes, references, etc.). It begins with the roots of his predecessors in the New World. The first Patton, Robert, emigrated to Virginia from Scotland about 1770. The first chapter outlines the development of the family from that point to the Civil War. Many of the men in the Patton family (including the Mercers) were actively involved in the Confederate Army, fighting in many major battles of the war- ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for school not thinking much of it, but this was one amazing book.
Jul 21, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: americanhistory
This is the best biography on Patton I've read, much better than Ladislas Farago or Martin Blumenson (though I still have yet to fully read the recent one by Stanley Hirshon).

All other Patton biographies are just too short or too admiring to be worth teh time of the serious reader who wants to really understand what drove this complex man to lead the way he did and why he made the decisions he made. Arguably our best high level combat commander since the Civil War (though a couple of other WW I
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading this magnificent book. Patton was a magnificent soldier, a man made for leadership in war and who had trouble finding himself in peace. The book is well written. The author really loves his subject even when he describes Patton's weaknesses. At the end the author describes how proud the soldiers were of having been in the Third Army in WWII as he cites now bankers, lawyers, truck drivers who all said when asked "We were with Patton" in the war. The obituary in the NY Times ...more
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
An excellent portrait of the man without any hero worship. However laudible the man's military achievements, Patton the man, the husband, the father was a real SOB.

The book has some unique insights into the film Patton, in particular how General Bradley (who was an advisor to the film) might have shaded the truth here and there to make himself look better. D'Este's book makes it clear that Bradley had as much if not more of a competition for glory with Montgomery as Patton himself did.

There is a
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I recently re-read (in late 2010) D'Este's excellent biography of Patton, and found it a highly textured history of one of the leading American generals during World War II. Patton was a detailed, well-prepared student of war and benefitted from understanding the modern instrument of the tank. He is one case of a top officer understanding the impact of technical changes in warfare -- and not being guilty of fighting the current war with the last war's tactics.

Patton was rich, arrogant, religious
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Carlo D'Este retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1978, having served overseas in Germany, Vietnam, and England. Born in Oakland, California, he received his B.A. from Norwich University and his M.A. from the University of Richmond and an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Norwich in 1992.