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Professional Development Bookshelf:

Reviews of books

that teach us about our craft By Maj. John Lowe J7 Joint Training & Doctrine Georgia Army National Guard

T

he Patton Mind is an excellent account of Patton’s professional self-education through his acquisition and reading of military books. Patton’s study was for the most part a daily habit complete with notes in the margins of many of his books as well as file cards that he created to further his development and thinking on leadership, tactics, strategy, and the organization of the military. Over the course of 10 chapters, author Roger Nye takes the reader from Patton’s early schooling and family life all the way to his crowning glory in World War II and his untimely death shortly thereafter. Through these chapters in Patton’s life the author provides a litany of examples of how Patton’s active reading and self-study molded him into a military genius. During his last year at West Point, Patton wrote in one of his notebooks: “I believe that in order for a man to become a great Soldier... it is necessary for him to be so thoroughly conversant with all sorts of military possibilities that whenever an occasion arises he has at hand without effort on his part a parallel... To attain this end I think it is necessary for a man to begin to read military history in its earliest and hence crudest form and to follow it down in natural sequence permitting

his mind to grow with his subject until he can grasp without effort the most abstruse question of the science of war because he is already permeated with all its elements.” Only the student of military history could react best to the battles of the future. Through his reading and study Patton taught himself that the commander would never have a clear picture of the battlefield and therefore he must make decisions lacking complete information. His study also taught him that situations would arise in the future that would not be able to be foreseen and the commander who is the most creative and quickest with a response will be the one who prevails. Nye believes that “perhaps the greatest legacy that Patton derived from his two decades of reading the history, theory, and practice of cavalry operations was his conviction that battles are won by those who take risks.” Mr. Nye argues that Patton’s greatest lesson for future commanders is that they “prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” This book provides the reader with a fascinating look into how Patton’s views were shaped by his voracious appetite for studying the profession of arms. In addition, it exposes how his reading and study played a significant part in creating one of the finest military minds the world has ever known.It is also reminds us even the great Patton had to study. Even Patton was a leader made, not just born. We all have the responsibility to use history to prepare us for the future. January-February 2013 | 14

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2013  

This special two-month edition of the “Georgia Guardsman” features a cover story about the Georgia National Guard's support of the Atlanta F...

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