Posted by: philipmartin | February 10, 2010

Other Great Books on General George S. Patton

[Here are a few recommendations from Nancy Martin, who worked closely with Frank Wayne Martin to assemble Patton’s Lucky Scout, a World War II memoir.]

The foremost authority on Patton to me was Martin Blumenson, who served as staff historian for Patton’s Third Army and wrote several books, including The Patton Papers (2-volume set; the 1940–1945 volume is available in paperback) and Patton: The Man Behind the Legend. I would have loved to have written to him asking for his perspective on my father-in-law’s story, but he unfortunately passed away before we started working on the book.

Patton himself authored War As I Knew It. According to Amazon.com: “This absorbing narrative draws on Patton’s vivid memories of battle and his detailed diaries . . . a valuable chronicle of the strategies and fiery personality of a legendary warrior.”

Over time, Frank Wayne Martin collected several shelves of Patton and WWII titles. One of my favorites is Before the Colors Fade: Portrait of a Soldier, by Fred Ayer, Jr. (General Patton’s nephew). Ayer had the unique perspective of knowing Patton personally, as well as having served as a staff officer and knowing his famous uncle professionally. In his book, he portrayed Patton as the man my father-in-law knew: someone who loved being a soldier, loved reading, loved history (especially military history), and loved the men who fought for him.

On page 205 of Ayer’s book, he writes:

I wish the people for whom he fought, deeming it an honor and a privilege to do so, could know what manner of man George Patton really was, that underneath the rough-spoken, cold-blooded exterior he was a gentle and kindly person who had to make himself tough to do the job he had. He wasn’t born that way.

Those words ring so true for so many who found themselves in the midst of World War II or other conflicts over the ages.

One of the most remarkable things about my father-in-law’s book, Patton’s Lucky Scout, is the degree to which it seemed that Frank Wayne Martin stuck to his principles, treating those he encountered with respect and kindness, treating his job professionally (yet keeping his own sense of humor and dignity). Not easy to do in wartime, when, for many, emotions can cloud true wisdom and intelligence.

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