"War is my work and I know I sound sometimes as though I liked it; perhaps I do -- how can I tell? -- but this war hurts everybody."
-- Patton to Henry J. Taylor, 1945
General George S. Patton, Jr., an inspirational leader and outstanding tactician, has intrigued and confounded his biographers. Now, utilizing untapped archival materials in both the United States and England, government documents, family papers, and oral histories, Stanley P. Hirshson creates the most balanced portrait of Patton ever written. It reveals Patton as a complex soldier capable of brilliant military maneuvers but also of inspiring his troops with fiery speeches that resulted in horrendous acts, such as the massacres of Italian civilians, It explains Patton's belief in a soldier's Valhalla, connects the family's wealth to one of America's bitterest labor strikes, and disputes the usual interpretation of Patton's relief from command of the Third Army.
In investigating this complex man, Hirshson has uncovered surprising material about a series of civilian massacres in Sicily, about the two slapping incidents, about attempts to exploit Patton's diary after his death, and about Patton's relations with top Allied generals. Patton emerges as a soldier of great imagination and courage, and his military campaigns make for edge-of-the-seat reading. All the drama of Patton's life comes alive in this meticulously documented volume.
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Stanley P. Hirshson was professor of history at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of biographies of Brigham Young, Gen. William T. Sherman, and Gen. George Patton, and died in 2003.From Publishers Weekly:
CUNY history professor Hirshson's exhaustively researched and well-written biography presents a balanced view of Patton's life from every angle, from his performance in the 1912 Olympics to his belief in reincarnation. Of course, most of the book chronicles his career in WWII, and the material is excellent. Besides a first-rate account of Patton's notorious slapping incidents, Hirshson (The White Tecumseh) also reveals American atrocities in Sicily fomented by Patton's oratory to his troops. He examines the strategies and tactics of the American war in Europe, and includes fascinating analyses of the often problematic relationships between Patton and Allied generals. Tracing Patton's advocacy of tank warfare throughout his career, Hirshson offers the surprising revelation that the general voiced doubts about it shortly before the battle for France in 1944. Extensive use of quotations from letters, memoirs, etc., enhance his clear, stimulating prose, and important insights on Patton from his extended family add to Hirshson's complete portrait. Offering an essentially sympathetic view of the general, the book still describes all of Patton's faults though carefully. His extramarital affairs (and those of other generals), for instance, are dealt with tastefully. The best biography of Patton to date, this will most likely become the definitive work on his life. Not only should it appeal to a wide audience, it should also serve to correct certain popular misconceptions that the film Patton encouraged. 16 pages of b&w photos; 8 maps. (Aug.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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