THE TRAGEDY OF PATTON A Soldier's Date With Destiny

Could World War II's Greatest General Have Stopped the Cold War?

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Pub Date 01 Dec 2020 | Archive Date 17 Mar 2021

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It is 75 years since the end of WW II and the strange, mysterious death of General George S. Patton, but as in life, Patton sets off a storm of controversy.

THE TRAGEDY OF PATTON: A Soldier's Date With Destiny asks the question: Why was General Patton silenced during his service in World War II? Prevented from receiving needed supplies that would have ended the war nine months earlier, freed the death camps, and prevented Russian invasion of the Eastern Bloc, and Stalin's murderous rampage. Why was he fired as General of the Third Army and relegated to a governorship of post-war Bavaria? Who were his enemies? Was he a threat to Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Bradley? And is it possible as some say that the General's freakish collision with an Army truck, on the day before his departure for US, was not really an accident? Or was Patton not only dismissed by his peers, but the victim of an assassin's bullet at their behest? Was his personal silence necessary?

Early in his life, Patton was a markedly insecure man, petrified by the notion of failing to live up to the standards of his pedigree. Patton was haunted by “several sets of ghosts” throughout his lifetime, including his martial ancestors, the great men of history and literature, and figures from his early years, especially relatives. As far as Patton saw it, his chief duty in life was to live up to — if not surpass — the military precedent set by his forebears. George Patton was driven by an innate sense of duty, both to his family’s great military tradition and to his country. He was fixated on the notion of reaching the status of a military legend, and driven by outdated notions about honor, drawing from the Greek concept of arête and medieval notions of chivalry, both of which had received a heightened level of attention in the 1800s. As a general, Patton measured himself against Alexander, Caesar and Hannibal of antiquity. Combat was, for Patton, the means by which to attain glory and secure his eternal legacy.

Patton was simultaneously brilliant and deeply flawed. He lived an exciting, compulsive life, never standing still for a moment, always searching, seeking, probing. He was daring and noble on occasion, like the Greek and Roman military legends he revered. At other times he was petulant and cruel, lacking in the diplomatic grace and tact that defined many of his contemporaries, a real son-of-a-bitch (i.e. “Our Blood His Guts”: They were mocking him). Patton was the kind of guy the Allies needed to get the dirty work done on the ground, but also the guy they wanted to get rid of or silence when the fighting was over. This is hardly surprising, given how outspoken Patton was about the conduct of the war — especially its end and aftermath — and his willingness to identify the Soviet Union as the next great threat to American democracy and world peace.

General George S. Patton was America's antihero of the Second World War. Orlando explores whether a man of such a flawed character could have been right about his claim that because the Allied troops, some within 200 miles of Berlin, or just outside Prague, were held back from capturing the capitals to let Soviet troops move in, the Cold War was inevitable. Patton said it loudly and often enough that he was relieved of command and silenced. Patton had vowed to “take the gag off” after the war and tell the intimate truth and inner workings about controversial decisions and questionable politics that had cost the lives of his men. Was General Patton volatile, bombastic, self-absorbed, reckless? Yes, but he was also politically astute and a brilliant military strategist who delivered badly needed wins.

Questions still abound about Patton’s rise and fall. THE TRAGEDY OF PATTON seeks to answer them.


It is 75 years since the end of WW II and the strange, mysterious death of General George S. Patton, but as in life...

Advance Praise

“In bright, admiring prose, Robert Orlando brings to life America’s most famous general in vivid colors. Patton’s brilliance, flaws, contradictions and beliefs leap off the pages in this fast-reading biography.” — Jonathan W. Jordan, bestselling author of Brothers, Rivals, Victors

“WWII is a lifelong passion of Orlando’s. The Tragedy of Patton has been a labor of love and truly a quest for truth and justice. His film, Silence Patton, was bold, engaging, and riveting, and so is this book. The man lost his life 75 years ago, to the shock of the world, but the life and the mystery live on. Anyone with any interest in General George S. Patton, the Cold War, his bizarre and tragic death, or his date with destiny needs to read this book.” — Paul Kengor PhD, Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, author of God and Ronald Reagan, The Divine Plan, and The Devil and Karl Marx

“I can honestly say, every military history library should have this volume on its shelf.” — Charles M. Province, The George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society

“Robert Orlando is one of America’s leading scholars on the turbulent life and interesting times of General George S. Patton. His life was full of sound and fury, who did so much for America and for the world. Patton, in addition to his many military conquests, was also a visionary. Imagine if the world had seen the Soviet threat earlier, as Patton did, how much suffering might have been prevented? Read, absorb and most of all enjoy Rob’s new tome, The Tragedy of Patton.” — Craig Shirley, Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian

“In bright, admiring prose, Robert Orlando brings to life America’s most famous general in vivid colors. Patton’s brilliance, flaws, contradictions and beliefs leap off the pages in this fast-reading...

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Featured Reviews

My First Patton Biography. Patton is one of those men who have seemingly entire libraries written about him. I know off the top of my head of the existence of at least a dozen different Patton biographies, and he is a subject I only have a very passing interest in. So if you've read any of those, you may have a different take on this book than I do. For me, as the grandson of two men who both survived the Battle of the Bulge (without ever meeting, to my knowledge) and who went on to have the war shape them in *very* different ways, anything I can get my hands on to help me understand that period of their lives better is always a treasure. And while Orlando spends a fair amount of time in arguably Patton's finest hours, he also spends quite a bit of the book on what got the man to that point and what was going on around him during all of these eras. Ultimately, Orlando paints a picture of a man many men of "lesser" pedigree can very much identify with. A man haunted by past family glory, trying to live up to expectations both external and internal - and having to bear the burden of saving mens' lives while also motivating them to live up to his own expectations of them. A fascinating look at a complicated and oft misunderstood man, written in an easily approachable manner. Very much recommended.

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