Thomas E. Ricks: Patton the Last

Roundup: Talking About History

[Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.]

I've had some fun over the last couple of weeks quoting some of Gen. George Patton's loonier comments and more repulsive observations, so it is only fair to conclude these excerpts by noting that I think Patton, for all his flaws, was a great general.

This is his great contradiction. He hated everybody, and was spewing bile at the end of his life. Yet as a commander, he resembled Stonewall Jackson, having a great feel for the pattern of the campaign, constantly noting changes, calculating opportunities and disconcerting his enemies....

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