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Patton: A Genius for War

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  2,630 ratings  ·  61 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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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
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.
“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.

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
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
Janine Urban
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
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.
Steven Peterson
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
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
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
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
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
Carl Brush
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
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
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
Jwee Chiek
The tale reminded me of King Solomon reflecting his life at the end of his life. Patton, although a man of God as we perceived, was driven by ambition and egotism and hence created more misery and sufferings in an already extremely miserable business of war. With a mountain of achievements behind him, he would reflected in end with great remorse that all that he achieved were vain glory human endeavours which were hubris in the eyes of God.
Wesley Young
Certainly one of the better, and more comprehensive, books about this remarkably interesting man. Covers his strengths as a military man, and his flaws as a personality quite well.
Ted Tabour
A very good read. My understanding of Patton as a man and a war general is enhanced after reading this book. Portrays him as a brilliant but flawed man.
Ian Divertie
Of course I've read it. If you claim to be a military historian you have to have read this already?
Kerr Smith
This book is a classic. Many reviewers have remarked on the book's length, but Patton is such an infinitely fascinating personality that I had trouble putting the book down. Yes, there might have been other battlefield commanders in WWII who were Patton's equal; however, they were wearing German or Russian uniforms. Eisenhower was the right man to lead the whole thing, but I cannot imagine that any other allied general could have accomplished what Patton did at the Battle of the Bulge. If you en ...more
Hugh Henry
Oct 19, 2007 Hugh Henry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any fan of World War II
Shelves: war-20th-century
Possibly THE BEST biography I have ever read (and I have read hundreds), D'Este brings Patton the man to life through the voluminous writings of his daughter and reveals Patton the soldier from an enormous array of primary sources. He clearly went down every trail, explored every time in the General's life from every angle he could find. Everything Patton's contemporaries wrote about him, D'Este read. The author also brings an impressive grasp of military doctrine, having served in the Army. As ...more
Michael Nelson
Really felt like I got to know Patton. Fascinating individual.
A thoroughly researched and even-handed biography of a fascinating man. While D'Este gets caught up in defending his subject's legacy a few too many times, I was generally impressed with the commitment to a fair portrait of George Patton. Quite the read, if you've got the patience to make it all the way through.
The writing was uninteresting, flaccid.
Bob Haferl
Excellent read. If you are a fan of historical biography's then this is for you.
Apr 16, 2008 Christiane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the Greatest Generation, WWII buffs, WestPointers
Shelves: history, biography
I'm not a WWII buff, but I enjoyed this. Patton was a brash man who was determined to be the greatest solider to ever live. He is also born and raised in Southern California so it was interesting to read about his family's history and how that relates to today. It's amazing to see how war technology changed in the short time that Patton was alive; he was trained for the cavalry, but ended up being the first greatest tank commander. His adaptability is to be admired while his brashness is to be d ...more
Owen Mckenna
Owen McKenna Rio Rancho, NM

Great book. I found it very informative, learning much about one of Americas greatest generals.
Probably the most flamboyant of all the American generals in WWII, D'este manages to go beyond the public persona and humanizes Patton without losing the more interesting aspects of his life.

After reading this book I became more convinced that Marshall made the right decision in making Ike the supreme commander instead of Patton who was more famous. Patton's temperament was more suited to corps command instead of front command.
Very interesting book about a brilliant and unique man. D'Este portrays Patton as a man haunted by the nightmare that he was one of those men capable of greatness -- provided the times were such that their greatness would be given an outlet. The various transformations and politics of the US military in the pre-WWII period and beyond are interwoven with the development of a truly different individual.
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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.
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