War As I Knew It" is the World War II memoirs of General George S. Patton, beginning with the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in 1942 and continuing to the German Surrender on May 8, 1945. Patton died a few months after the end of the war. I suspect that this explains its fairly unpolished style.
This book is, essentially, World War II as Patton observed it. It verifies many of the scenes and dialogues which we enjoy in the movie "Patton". It does not get into deep analysis of the war or explanations of his actions. It is good in reporting the movements of the various units under his command. There is very little about the rivalry between himself and Montgomery or the competition for resources between the Third Army and others. From reading this you would not learn that there was any controversy over the slapping of a soldier in the hospital. One must look elsewhere for a realization that the relationships between Patton and Eisenhower and Bradley were crucial and changed as the war progressed.
I read this book in the hopes of getting a better understanding of Patton's approach to the war which he led. In this I was moderately disappointed. I do recommend it as a second book on Patton through which to obtain a deeper understanding, but would not recommend it as a first book. As a first hand report on the war, I do not rate it up with Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe" (see my Amazon review). For an understanding of Patton, I recommend "Patton: Ordeal and Triumph" by Ladislas Farago (see my Amazon review) as a starting point with "War As I Knew It" as a supplemental work.
on 6 July 1999
This book is as valuable for the light it sheds on Patton's character as it is for the detailed accounts of his various European campaigns. Patton's directness (admittedly the book was a rough draft of what would have been published had he lived) confirms that he was a man committed to discerning and speaking the truth. Generous with friends and reticent with enemies, he appears honorable and entirely credible in his explication of the facts of the War. As for his opinions on the nature of war, they are very clearly encapsulated in the appendix, and are shown to be both learned and hard to refute.
A large portion of the book is concerned with the dispositions of the Third Army; these sections would undoubtedly be easier to follow if more and better maps were included in the book.
on 3 April 1999
I consider these book just excelent, the third part of the book regarding tactics and strategy it is an example of how to run not only an army but also a business, in these days of global competition and crisis being a good strategist and a good leader is the key to success, i recomend these book to executive managers and business students.
I discovered this slightly battered, yellowing and a little musty smelling copy in one of this second-hand bookshops it is possible to while hours away just wandering.
From the outset, I must admit Patton is one of my heroes - a man in the right place, at the right time and just right for what he had to do. Never far from trouble, usually caused by his mouth rather than his armies, he was a warrior from a warrior family, one who was completely unafraid to take decisions and send men into battle. Controversial and vain, highly intelligent, well-read and erudite, he had many faults but he also knew how to inspire men and how to win battles - battles rather than wars, perhaps.
To have achieved what he did and kept a daily journal is amazing. He was a "hands-on" general, one unafraid to get down and dirty. Complete with maps, drawings, plans and other illustrations, e.g. a detailed plan of the army positions at the Battle of the Bulge early on 22nd December 1944 and another showing positions late on 22nd December, 1 January and 31st January, it is a rare insight into how he went about his war. One poignant feature for readers but essential logistics for Patton are the regular tables, e.g. 24th October - "Third Army - Killed-4,541, Wounded-22,718, Missing-4,548, Non-battle casualties-13,323 - Grand Total-45,130, Replacements-43,566 / Enemy - Killed-30,900, Wounded-89,600, Prisoners-95,600 - Total-216,100" (P 131). Reading these types and scales of figures requires a certain type of man.
"I complacently remembered that I had always 'Demanded the impossible,' that I had 'Dared extreme occasions' and that I had 'Not taken counsel of my fears'." P 158)
The north African and Sicily campaigns are detailed in the early chapter and make fascinating reading, as does his view of the Bulge and sweep eastwards at the end of the war.
He quotes poetry, his own and others and begins with the following dedication:
"My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my skill and courage to him that cab get it. My works and scars I carry with me, to be my witness for me that I have fought His battle who know will be my rewarder." "Pilgrim's Progress.
Worth a read for anyone interested in Patton, military history or the Second World War.
on 1 October 2010
Normally Patton is seen by those in Great Britain as bit of an oaf and someone who was anti-British. From these writings before he died, he come's accross as a very honest soldier who wanted to do the positive action all of the time. Montgomary is often seen as Patton's arch-nemesis amongst the Allies and tried to thwart him but, truthfully, he never had that influence. This book is a very refreshing read ... you feel as you could have been there ... if you like pages after what XXX or 29th Arm. Div. and what Lt. Gen. etc did or were intended to do this is a very good source of what went on during WW2 - Post Overlord especially. This isn't an easy read ... but well worth it for Patton's honest, and often humourous insights into what he saw on the ground and around him.