Fifty years after his death, General George S. Patton Jr. remains one of the most colorful, charismatic, misunderstood, and controversial figures ever to set foot on the battlefields of World War II. And the image of the man has been not a little influenced by the 1970 film Patton, starring George C. Scott, in which he is portrayed as a swashbuckling, brash, profane, impetuous general who wore ivory-handled pistols into battle and slapped two hospitalized soldiers in Sicily.
It is one of the achievements of this riveting biography that it reveals the complex and contradictory personality that lay behind the facade. With full access to Patton’s private and public papers, and the cooperation of the general’s family, Carlo D’Este shows us not only the extrovert Patton of public perception but also the intensely private Patton – the devoted student of history, the poet, the humble man very unsure of his own abilities – who could burst into tears, be charming or insulting quite unexpectedly, and the Patton who trained himself for greatness with a determination matched by no other general in the twentieth century.
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.
If you 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.
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 ...