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A radical new biography that should interest historians, military strategists, and psychologists.

Awards & Accolades

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A revisionist history of Gen. George S. Patton that attributes his famously erratic behavior to a personality disorder.

Patton is almost universally regarded as an American war hero and a genius tactician, but less well-known, according to debut author Sudmeier, were the unmistakable signs of his mental instability. The author—the award-winning screenwriter of the 2006 docudrama Patton’s Secret Mission—considers what he believes to be ample evidence that Patton had a diagnosable, psychological affliction. The general was capable of extraordinary cruelty, he says, and once boasted to his wife that he killed another American soldier with a shovel. Sudmeier also asserts that Patton was a rabid racist with little empathy, in general—he even treated animals with cruel indifference. Although he was a brave and gifted leader, he was also capable of terrible mistakes in judgment, apparently due to a vainglorious desire for recognition; in fact, Patton was so obsessed with his own legacy, the author says, that he sometimes recklessly led his men to certain death. Sudmeier meticulously reconsiders the general’s finest moments, such as the 1944 liberation of Bastogne, Belgium, and his worst disasters, such as the infamous 1945 raid of a prisoner-of-war camp in Hammelburg, Germany. Ultimately, the author concludes that Patton suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, demonstrated by a volatile combination of a superiority complex and fragile ego. Sudmeier also assesses Patton’s private life, characterizing him as a relentless social climber and a largely dysfunctional parent. Especially for such a brief study, this is impressively comprehensive, including detailed analysis of Patton’s personal and professional relationships as well as his effectiveness as a general. As a result, this portrait is neither a hagiography nor a hit job—the author does give Patton his due for all of his many virtues as a soldier, but he also punctures the mystique of invincibility that’s often seen in fawning biographies of the man. Of course, a psychological diagnosis of any historical figure must be taken with a grain of salt, and some of Sudmeier’s conclusions are more speculative than empirical. Nonetheless, this is a thorough, insightful account.

A radical new biography that should interest historians, military strategists, and psychologists.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5395-7795-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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