An inspired collective biography of the three American generals—and friends—who conquered the Nazis.
Born too late to be involved in World War I, these three soldiers—Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Omar Bradley—all graduates of West Point, were plunged into the quagmire of World War II by their 50s, and they took up the challenge with relish. When Gen. George C. Marshall was named the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff in 1939, he maneuvered the three talented career officers to plum positions, though it was Eisenhower’s appointment as Commanding General, European Theater of Operations, in 1942, that would determine the fates of the other two. Eisenhower was the master planner, while his longtime friend Patton, a cocky patrician with a penchant for tanks and profanity, proved his striker—the Stonewall Jackson to his Robert E. Lee, as Patton had joked. Gen. Bradley, the tall, quiet Missourian, an instructor of math and tactics, was the last to be called overseas, sent to work with Patton in North Africa; he would eventually take over Patton’s II Corps to brilliant effect. Patton, meanwhile, begrudged Eisenhower’s insistence on moving in tandem with the Allies, and suspected he was pro-British, while Eisenhower and Bradley were frequently enraged by Patton’s blustery, precipitous style, especially during the conquest of Sicily. A master assault general, however, Patton was Eisenhower’s heavy hitter in the Operation Overlord amphibious invasion of 1944. Ably marshalling a considerable amount of research, Jordan (Lone Star Navy: Texas, the Fight for the Gulf of Mexico, and the Shaping of the American West, 2005, etc.) fashions a truly compelling narrative of three outsized American military figures.
A masterly, exciting study of character and tactics in World War II.