Patton at bay : the Lorraine campaign, September to December, 1944 /

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Main Author: Rickard, John Nelson, 1969-
Format: Book
Published:Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1999.
Series:Praeger series in war studies,
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Review by Choice Review

Famed for his elan, George Patton preferred to approach battle with speed and mobility. Rickard demonstrates that Patton also knew how to conduct a conventional set piece battle and acquitted himself well in Tunisia in 1943, where the terrain gave him no choice but to hammer away at enemy lines. Patton's most celebrated victory came in 1944 when his Third Army wheeled across France from Normandy only to be hampered by a shortage of supplies and a stiffening German opposition as the Third Army reached Lorraine. There his drive was further weakened by the reassignment of major Third Army units to other American armies and by geographic features such as the Moselle River, the Vosges Mountains, and by the ancient fortress city of Metz. Rather than trying to screen Metz, as Rickard argues he could have done, Patton persisted in ordering head-on assaults. Only in December, when larger German forces attacked to the north in the Battle of the Bulge, did he redeem his reputation by quickly disengaging Third Army units from Lorraine and speeding them northward to relieve the hard-pressed First Army in Belgium. Good maps and illustrations. A useful addition to the literature of World War II, although somewhat plodding in style. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. J. Graybar Eastern Kentucky University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A detailed analysis of one of the few WWII campaigns led by General George S. Patton that could be called a failure. Rickard, a Ph.D. candidate in military history at the University of New Brunswick, looks at the period from September through December, 1944, when Patton, fresh from his successes in Normandy, attempted to race through the French province of Lorraine and cross the Rhine river into the German homeland. Contested by various forces throughout history in endless wars, Lorraine was held in 1942 by the Nazis; Patton was delayed in getting there by inclement weather, stronger-than-anticipated German resistance, and a countryside not well suited to the large, offensive tank campaigns Patton favored. Rickard's writing is ponderous and academic, but he makes many relevant points. Revered for his bold and decisive strategic armored troop maneuvers, in which he swiftly swept through large amounts of enemy territory with a flair for capturing headlines and enemy troops, Patton in this case didn't adapt his usually successful style to a new situation. The author faults the general for failing to learn how to wage war on a static battlefield where the enemy was firmly entrenched, and for failing to fully see that his forces' engagement in Lorraine was in part intended as a diversionary tactic while the Allies captured the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr. The campaign ended when Patton pulled out of Lorraine to come to the aid of the beleaguered American army at Bastogne in the famed Battle of the Bulge; the general died a year later after a car crash in occupied Germany. A strictly academic study of Patton's generalship in one significant battle. (maps)

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