I’m finally done with this book to give it a proper recommendation and review. This book has gotten mixed reviews, as do most things, but I’d say it is worthy enough. The content isn’t so much about Patton’s military accomplishments or failures, but about how Patton himself viewed himself during them. It’s about the psychological make up of Patton. It’s not surprising he was a proponent of bathing in as many turbulent waters as possible. The short time he lived on this planet might have been a blessing, as he wasn’t very in tune to the inner working of himself, in particular his emotions. His abrasive personality and tough bravado was partly due to his belief system: you must be ready for war at any time.
He took pride in training his men as much as when he led them into battle. He found his courage and reason for living in war. Where many ran away from it, he jumped feet first into the dangerous areas, and only retreated when he felt that he was still not afraid of dying. One might say he lived his life recklessly. He believed he was born great and was the reincarnation of many past men involved in battle. He kept a journal religiously or as the writer, Alan Axelrod, a diary. In it you see the other side of him, someone who was fragile and sensitive to criticism.
The author does some jumping with Patton’s timeline. It might be seen as jarring. For example, at one point he is talking about him alive, and then soon after he’s talking about him dead. He believes Patton to be the greatest general ever to have lived, which some might argue. I don’t have that much knowledge with comparing generals to say if he was or wasn’t, but the fact he had such a hard time controlling his temper, it would be logical to think others would come before him. This doesn’t diminish his natural ability to see fresh solutions and make difficult decisions during stressful times.
This book basically focuses on his Army path to stardom, ultimately landing at Lieutenant General, and then ultimately dying in a freak accident in 1945 although some speculate it was deliberate. He was 60 years old and buried at Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg City.
A Soldier’s Burial
by George S. Patton
Not midst the chanting of the Requiem Hymn,
Nor with the solemn ritual of prayer,
Neath misty shadows from the oriel glass,
And dreamy perfume of the incensed air,
Was he interred;
But the subtle stillness after fight,
And the half light between the night and the day,
We dragged his body all besmeared with mud,
And dropped if, clod-like back into the clay.
Yet who shall say that he was not content,
Or missed the prayers, or drone of chanting choir,
He who had heard all day the Battle Hymn
Sung on all sides by a thousand throats of fire.
What painted glass can lovelier shadows cost
Than those the evening skies shall ever shed,
While mingled with their light, Red Battle’s Sun
Completes in magic colors o’er our dead
The flag for which they died.