Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny. By Agostino von Hassell and Ed Breslin. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Photographs. Bibliography. Pp. xxv, 195. $19.99. ISBN: 978-1-59555-056-9
This book is part of a series entitled, The Generals, that is apparently intended for a popular audience, possibly at the high-school level. There is no question that Patton is a figure who deserves continuing attention. Of the twelve U.S. generals who commanded field armies in World War II, he was the most flamboyant and best publicized. Whether he was the best leader is still a matter of debate. Field Manual FM 6-22, Army Leadership, lists twelve attributes and eight competencies of leadership. Patton scores high on these, but resilience and tenacity are tops. Without question, Patton's fame was enhanced, and interest in him revived, by the production in 1970 of the film in his name, featuring George C. Scott, which gives a sensationalized portrayal.
Von Hassell attempts to give the story of the man, acknowledging the flaws but emphasizing the undoubted talents. Unfortunately, he fails to convey Patton's feelings about a possible display of his own cowardice---that it would be destructive to his self-image. Fear is a natural instinct, necessary for survival. I can testify that it is also natural for a leader to be uncertain how he will react when first under fire.
One of the...