friendship – and rivalry

From the book jacket:

Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, General George S. Patton, and General Omar N. Bradley engineered the Allied conquest that shattered Hitler’s hold over Europe. But they also shared intricate connections going back decades, and in the cauldron of the Second World War, they found their prewar friendships complicated by shifting allegiances, jealousy, insecurity, patriotism, and ambition.

From the novel:

“No human enterprise goes flat so instantly as an Army training camp when war ends,” Ike dolefully remarked long after the last train of bright-faced draftees pulled away. “As for my professional career,” he added, “the weight in a meaningless chair-bound assignment, shuffling papers and filling out forms. If not depressed, I was mad, disappointed, and resented the fact that the war had passed me by.”

The only break in the monotony of that lackluster fall was the arrival of a hard-charging Californian named George Patton, a colonel who had been assigned command of a light tank outfit temporarily in Ike’s care. Tall and spotless in his tailored jacket, riding breeches, and mirror-polished boots, Colonel Patton looked like he had stepped off the cover of an officer’s field manual. He carried his six-foot, one-inch frame as if the world were one great parade square. He dressed with the precision of an honor guardsman, and his blue-gray eyes squinted over a practiced scowl as he barked out commands in a high-tenored, almost feminine voice.

The two officers could hardly have been more different. George Smith Patton Jr. was an eclectic mix of socialite patrician and profane horse soldier, a field officer whose family wealth allowed him to maintain a lifestyle even a general’s pay couldn’t support. Ike, two inches shorter and five years Patton’s junior, was an instinctively likeable infantryman whose meager salary made it hard for his family to make ends meet. Patton, who had descended from Confederate and Revolutionary War heroes, believed that greatness could be bred, much like speed in racehorses or strength in bulls. Ike, whose Kansas and Pennsylvania forebears as far as he knew, had never been more than modestly successful, could point to nothing in his lineage that would mark him for the history books.

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