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War as I Knew It (1947)

de George S. Patton

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The personal and candid account of General Patton's celebrated, relentless crusade across western Europe during World War II   First published in 1947,War as I Knew It is an absorbing narrative that draws from Patton's vivid memories of battle and his detailed diaries, covering the moment the Third Army exploded onto the Brittany Peninsula to the final Allied casualty report. The result is not only a grueling, human account of daily combat and heroic feats--including a riveting look at the Battle of the Bulge--but a valuable chronicle by one of the most brilliant military strategists in history. Patton's letters from earlier military campaigns in North Africa and Sicily, complemented by a powerful retrospective of his guiding philosophies, further reveal a man of uncompromising will and uncommon character, which made "Georgie" a household name in mid-century America.… (més)
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This was another of my $1 garage sale audio books. While Patton didn't exactly write an autobiography, this book is entirely made up of his journal entries, memoirs, letters home, and copies of orders given. As such, it's all in the first person and reads like a personal history of WWII.

Since much of it deals with commands given, areas taken, tactics used, and suggestions for future Army organization, it is pretty boring for a non-soldier to read. But sprinkled throughout are Patton's philosophies, personal stories, jokes, and historical reflections that make it worthwhile.

Much of the beginning of the book, the North Africa campaign, isn't about fighting but rather about the people he met and visited. Patton had an incredibly detailed knowledge of ancient history. He knew more about the sites he visited during the war than the tour guides he encountered. The last book he mentions reading before landing in North Africa is the Koran. He reads the Norman Invasion as he prepares to take the Third Army across Europe.

The last chapter deals with personal stories from war, including serving under General Pershing while chasing Poncho Villa into Mexico. He illustrates what he learned, and how various decisions shaped him as an officer. I'm guessing some of this book has been made into a leadership guide for corporate CEOs. "Never take counsel of your fears" is a recurring Patton maxim.

I was curious how the stories matched up with the famous Patton film. Not very well. Patton's dialogue with the Third Army Chaplain about devising a prayer for good weather is about the only part that matches up almost word-for-word.

The movie makes much of him slapping a battle fatigued soldier, suggesting it was controversial in the States and led him to almost be sacked. Patton only mentions such an incident in the last chapter, and never suggests any repercussions from it.

The man probably never intended for his journals to be published as they were, but they're historically great. Patton was a very intelligent man in many ways. Very little of his foul-mouthed reputation comes out in the book, but he mentions a few times where he (always to achieve a specific purpose) cursed people out.

Overall, I give it 2.5 stars. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
As a history junkie youngster I loved anything that had to do with WWII. And once I saw the amazing film, Patton, I began idolizing the General. In his memoir about his days as the commander of the famed 3rd Army, Patton not only shows himself to be one of the greatest military minds in human history, but also a brilliant writer. The book mainly consists of letters Patton wrote during his campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and France. His military genius is plain to see as is his love for the US and the army. A must read for any military enthusiasts and also for anyone that enjoys history and wants to get a glimpse into the mind of a man that has come to define the United States in many ways. ( )
  Zissou54 | Apr 23, 2014 |
Patton' diary / memoir of his role in WWII. Written shortly before his death in Dec 1945 and published by his wife. Very blunt and to the point as one would expect from Patton. Appended to this book are copies of Patton's general orders for the conduct of the 3rd Army in Europe which includes some very good practical advice for the fighting soldier and commander. ( )
  SPQR2755 | Oct 13, 2013 |
A great self-autobiography. The starting point for any Pattonaphile. ( )
  Sturgeon | Apr 30, 2007 |
Patton was loon, but it is sure interesting to read this memoir compared to some of the others (Bradley, Montgomery, Rommel, Eisenhower). As this is truly a memoir that he just finished before his fatal accident in 1945 you do get a much more personal look into this great generals mind. ( )
  meegeekai | Jan 26, 2007 |
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"My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him
that can get it.
My works and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder."
So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.


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I am sending this back by Captain Gordon Hutchins of this ship, the Augusta.
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The personal and candid account of General Patton's celebrated, relentless crusade across western Europe during World War II   First published in 1947,War as I Knew It is an absorbing narrative that draws from Patton's vivid memories of battle and his detailed diaries, covering the moment the Third Army exploded onto the Brittany Peninsula to the final Allied casualty report. The result is not only a grueling, human account of daily combat and heroic feats--including a riveting look at the Battle of the Bulge--but a valuable chronicle by one of the most brilliant military strategists in history. Patton's letters from earlier military campaigns in North Africa and Sicily, complemented by a powerful retrospective of his guiding philosophies, further reveal a man of uncompromising will and uncommon character, which made "Georgie" a household name in mid-century America.

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