book report: Patton, Montgomery, Rommel by Terry Brighton

Terry Brighton's Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War, 2008, read much faster than I

Cover of Cover via Amazon

thought I'd need for a 400 page three character biography. I was pleasantly surprised at this Brit's lack of sympathy for Monty (General Montgomery, UK). I was equally surprised at his affection for Rommel. Brighton spent a great deal of ink showing the hubris of these generals, but he gave much more ink to the effects of Monty's pride and analysis on it. Patton's (US) horrific mistake of slapping soldiers in hospital beds due to battle fatigue was embarassing enough to leave many other effects of his pride, except for his marital infidelities, to the wayside. But the effects of Rommel's (Nazi) pride on his fellow soldiers and officers is hardly mentioned, at least negatively. Perhaps the source material available on Rommel was limited, but I sense Brighton was soft on Rommel due to his affection for him.

If anything, Brighton admired the pride of Rommel, that he would stand up repeatedly to Hitler, even in support of the plot to remove him by putsch, deadly or not. Well, who wouldn't. Nevertheless, Rommel was an accomplice to genocide. Rommel discussed with fellow German generals on the western front of surrendering his armies to Eisenhower. He knew it better to negotiate with the West than with Russia. But those plans were interrupted by justice. The assassination attempt failed. Rommel was knocked out of command by an air attack from Allied pilots. The SS determined that Rommel was guilty and offered him an honorable legacy if he bit a suicide pill, which he did.

Patton was the most colorful character in this book. He is someone I'm most interested in learning more about. His personal moral failures were horrific to individuals, his wife, individual soldiers, but he was equally passionate in his grief over his sins, in visitations with wounded and dying soldiers, in his war mongering. He stands apart, in my view from Monty and Rommel because of his passion. He always had it, or, it always had him. But Brighton points out that Eisenhower needed a meticulous planner like Monty to plan a complicated landing in Normandy, D-Day, something Patton could have never done. But he needed Patton to go out and fight and be creative on the fly and take initiative. With only one type of general, Eisenhower would not have seen success as soon.

Overall, this book was a great read, and I commend it to any student of World War 2. Brighton focused on three theaters of the war, North Africa, Sicily/Italy, and France. He didn't follow the Italian campaign to its finish because the generals left before the campaign finished. I'm glad I knew more about that theater from a book I reviewed in March of 2008 called The Day of Battle by Atkinson. Atkinson also tells the story of the North African campaign in earlier book I enjoyed before the blog called An Army at Dawn. Hopefully, his take on the Western Europe campaign will come soon. He calls the project, The Liberation Trilogy.

It seems to me, that as Proverbs declares, The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. (NLT) Prov. 21:31 No matter what, no matter the incompetence and confusion, God decided how the war would end. I love reading about the infighting and confusion and incompetence of the armies, because it gives God the glory. He righted the wrongs. He brought justice.
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