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Through the force of his personality and the headline-grabbing advance of his U.S. Third Army, Gen. George S. Patton has eclipsed the other six men who, like him, led field armies in the great Allied campaign to liberate northwest Europe in 1944-45. Certain to rank among the lassics of World War II history like Eisenhower's Lieutenants by Russell Weigley, Patton's Peers presents a masterful reassessment of the eleven-month struggle from D-Day to Germany's surrender, shedding long-overdue light on the contributions of these forgotten Allied field army commanders.
Seasoned military historian John A. English unearths the vital roles played by these six generals. As the leader of an army of several hundred thousand troops, each had to plan operations days and eeks in advance, coordinate air support, assess intelligence, give orders to corps commanders, manage a staff of sometimes difficult subordinates, and deal with superiors like Eisenhower, Bradley, and Montgomery. Some performed less ably than the rest while others rivaled Patton in their achievements. All deserve to be lifted from Patton's shadow.
Posted September 20, 2011
John English has written an excellent introduction to six of Patton's "peers", general officers who have forever been relegated taking a backseat to the popular and controversial commander of the 3rd U.S. Army. English presents the stories of General Harry Crerar (1st Canadian Army), General Miles Dempsey (British 2nd Army), General Courtney Hodges (U.S. 1st Army), General William Simpson (U.S. 9th Army), Lt. General Alexander Patch (U.S. 7th Army) and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (French 1st Army) and their exploits on the Western Front during 1944-1945. The introduction gives the reader a quick breakdown of the Allied command system and how it varied between countries. Each general has his own chapter with, what I found to be interesting titles. For example, Chapter Two: In the Shadow of Montgomery (Dempsey), Chapter Three: In the Shadow of Bradley (Hodges), and Chapter Six: In the Shadow of Napoleon (de Tassigny). English pulls no punches as he reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each of the generals. Each chapter presents a brief background of the subject before delving into their roles on the Western Front. English spends time discussing troop movements and covers most major operations each commander was involved with. Each chapter also has several pertinent maps making it easy for the reader to follow the troop movements of these operations. The book includes several photographs allowing readers to put faces to these often unfamiliar names. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Allied commanders on the Western Front. It was an interesting and quick read. For me, it was very interesting to learn about the commanders who "collectively directed almost 2 million more troops than Patton" and carried out the strategies that helped end World War Two.
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