Essential Books on George Patton
There are countless books on George Patton, and it comes with good reason, he was a general in the United States Army who commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean Theater of World War II, and the Third United States Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week,” he remarked.
In order to get to the bottom of what inspired one of history’s most consequential figures to the heights of societal contribution, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best books on George Patton.
Patton: A Genius For War by Carlo D’Este
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, 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.
Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago
An early proponent of tank warfare, George S. Patton moved from being a foresighted lieutenant in the First World War to commanding the Third Army in the next, leading armored divisions in the Allied offensive that broke the back of Nazi Germany. Patton was an enigmatic figure. His image among his troops and much of the press achieved legendary status through his bold and colorful comments and combat leadership, yet these same qualities nearly jeopardized his career and forced him out of the battle on several occasions. Victory was impossible without Patton, and after returning to the field, his army was responsible for one of the most crushing advances in the history of warfare.
In this hallmark among books on George Patton, the complete story of this fascinating personality is revealed. Born into an aristocratic California family, Patton rose in military rank quickly and was tapped to lead the Allied landings in North Africa in 1942. Under Patton’s direction, American troops cut their teeth against Rommel’s Afrikakorps, advanced further and more quickly than British General Montgomery’s army in the conquest of Sicily, and ultimately continued their exploits by punching into Germany and checking the Russian westward advance at the end of World War II.
Patton’s Payback by Stephen L. Moore
In March 1943, in their first fight with the Germans, American soldiers in North Africa were pushed back fifty miles by Rommel’s Afrika Korps and nearly annihilated. Only the German decision not to pursue them allowed the Americans to maintain a foothold in the area. General Eisenhower, the supreme commander, knew he needed a new leader on the ground, one who could raise the severely damaged morale of his troops. He handed the job to a new man: Lieutenant General George Patton.
Charismatic, irreverent, impulsive, and inspiring, Patton possessed a massive ego and the ambition to match. But he could motivate men to fight. He had just ten days to whip his dispirited troops into shape, then throw them into battle against the Wehrmacht’s terrifying Panzers, the speedy and powerful German tanks that U.S. forces had never defeated. Patton, who believed he had fought as a Roman legionnaire in a previous life, relished the challenge to turn the tide of America’s fledgling war against Hitler – and the chance to earn a fourth star.
War As I Knew It by George Patton
From the invasion of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, General George S. Patton, Jr., was the most flamboyant, audacious Allied leader of World War II. Brandishing his famous pearl-handled pistols and driven by a profound belief that wars are won by killing the enemy as fast as possible, Patton slammed the tanks and men of the Third Army across Europe at a breakneck pace. He battled not only the enemy but Supreme Headquarters; he complained SHAEF was doing all it could to deny him early victory.
Now in these fascinating and frank memoirs, Patton speaks out with intense personal feelings about the Second World War, the art of war, and the soldier’s life. He gives us an unforgettable self-portrait of an American professional soldier caught in the toils of war.
Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly
General George S. Patton, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances in the months following the end of World War II. For almost seventy years, there has been suspicion that his death was not an accident – and may very well have been an act of assassination. Killing Patton takes readers inside the final year of the war and recounts the events surrounding Patton’s tragic demise, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced.
The Generals by Winston Groom
Celebrated historian Winston Groom tells the uniquely American tales of George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, and George Marshall, from World War I to World War II. These three remarkable men of arms who rose from the gruesome hell of the First World War to become the finest generals of their generation during World War II redefined America’s ideas of military leadership and brought forth a new generation of American soldier. Their efforts revealed to the world the grit and determination that would become synonymous with America in the post-war years.
The Button Box by Ruth Ellen Patton Totten
The Button Box is the loving memoir of Beatrice Ayer Patton, the wife of one of the greatest military figures in history, General George S. Patton, Jr. Written by the Pattons’ daughter, Ruth Ellen, the book covers Beatrice’s life from her youth in a wealthy New England family until her death, with an emphasis on her years of marriage to George Patton. A supportive and loving wife, Beatrice was accomplished in her own right as an equestrian, musician, lecturer, sailor, and internationally published author. Courageous and adventurous, Beatrice played a significant role in her husband’s life.
Although there have been numerous books written on George S. Patton, The Button Box provides a unique perspective on the general’s complex personality as well as a rare and intimate look inside his famous American family, a glimpse of the “Old Army” that formed the cadre of the army of World War II, and a detailed description of life “between the wars” in a society not to be seen again. Most important, though, it is the story of a truly fascinating woman, told with love and a rowdy sense of humor by her daughter.
Patton: The Man Behind the Legend by Martin Blumenson
This magnificent biography by the world’s foremost expert on the life of George S. Patton portrays the many faces of the general with uncompromising insight: the gruff, demanding public front known (and feared) by millions; the sensitive, intellectual visage shown to intimates; and the self-conscious, emotional, religious man only a handful of people ever met. Martin Blumenson deftly explores the life of this American hero, a paradoxical man who inspired others to greatness but who sometimes questioned the greatness within himself.
The Tragedy of Patton by Robert Orlando
General George S. Patton was America’s antihero of the Second World War. Robert Orlando explores whether a man of such a flawed character could have been right about his claim that because the Allied troops, some within 200 miles of Berlin, or just outside Prague, were held back from capturing the capitals so Soviet troops could move in, the Cold War was inevitable.
Patton said it loudly and often enough that he was relieved of command and silenced. Patton had vowed to “take the gag off” after the war and tell the intimate truth and inner workings about controversial decisions and questionable politics that had cost the lives of his men. Was General Patton volatile, bombastic, self-absorbed, reckless? Yes, but he was also politically astute and a brilliant military strategist who delivered badly needed wins.
I Marched with Patton by Frank Sisson
At a traffic intersection one day, Frank caught his first glimpse of the man who would control the next six months of his deployment, and whose lessons, and spirit, would shape the rest of his life. General Patton could be erratic and short-tempered – but he was also a brilliant military tactician and cared deeply for the men who served under him, a credo that gave Frank and his fellow soldiers solace as they faced death every day. In this gritty, intimate account, Frank reveals what life on the ground was really like in the closing days of World War II.
The Patton Papers by Martin Blumenson
One of World War II’s most brilliant and controversial generals, George S. Patton fought in North Africa and Sicily, as commander of the Third Army, spearheaded the Allies’ spectacular 1944-1945 sweep through France, Belgium, and Germany. Martin Blumenson is the only historian to enjoy unlimited access to the vast Patton papers.
If you enjoyed this guide to essential books on George Patton, check out our list of The 10 Best Books on Douglas MacArthur!