I finished this book a month ago, and really enjoyed it. As I mentioned about Jordan’s subsequent book American Warlords, the prose is a little over the top at times, but it seems to fit this book better, since the three generals tended to speak to each other in language that is slightly stilted to modern ears.
The choice of story is magnificent. While I knew something about the three and their prior acquaintanceship in the peacetime army, the anecdotes of Eisenhower and Patton’s time together at Fort Meade in the 1920’s with their families were incredible. Remember the scene in The Incredibles where Bob and Frozone are sitting in a car at night waiting to catch criminals?
Patton and Eisenhower literally did this for fun at night with loaded pistols looking for “highwaymen.” Another time they wanted to see if a machine gun’s accuracy would be affecting by it overheating, and accidentally causing it to go on full automatic with no one at the controls, spraying bullets everywhere and threatening to cook off boxes of ammunition and had to crawl through their own fire to get close enough to shut it off.
I learned a lot about the levels of corps and army group commander – something I wasn’t previously familiar with. But the best part of the book was that on almost a page by page basis, which of the three was talking sense and which was doing something dumb, or at least inadvisable would change. There wasn’t a clear-cut presentation one that was always right and one that was always wrong. Eisenhower grew throughout the book, both in his ability to lead and his decisionmaking. Bradley was almost always the most competent and reliable commander to both Eisenhower and Patton. And Patton was the preeminent field general on the American side, but with equally great shortcomings.
The real story of the book is Eisenhower’s willingness to tolerate Patton’s constant incidents during the war, which was in part due to their friendship, at least early on, but later was because he knew that he would need Patton as a field commander, a decision that paid off handsomely in the fall and winter of 1944.
Again, a really good book.