George S Patton. American general in World War II.
A book from his library, The Ordeal of Civilization, a sketch of the development in world wide diffusion of our present-day institutions and ideas, by James H. Robinson. Signed and dated by George S Patton, January 31, 1928 on the flyleaf. A very important work which Patton has annotated on 61 pages including “a leader” written in the margin of the chapter about Napoleon, as well as the notation, in his hand, “a dreamer and a man of action.” Patton had earlier written “destroyed history to start religion,” “peace by law,” “despots energetic,” and referring to the French Revolution, “lack of money caused revolution.” The chapter on Germany between 1871 and 1914 he wrote, “due to a strong government as usual.” In the chapter on Great Britain and her empire, discussing the Duke of Wellington, he notes “judicious use of force” and next to the section discussing the Boer War, “the same apathy will affect the League of Nations.”
George S Patton’s views of the Russian Japanese war of 1904 are well expressed. After underlining that Teddy Roosevelt brought about a peace he writes, “this was a bad mistake for the U.S. Had he kept quiet, Russia would have won” and that China had “a lack of force. In another chapter, which discusses the United States and its relationships with Mexico and Latin American countries, Patton writes “annexation better.” In the chapter on World War I the author writes that most people could not believe that the European governments would take on the fearful responsibility of starting a world war. Patton writes in the margin “this will always be the case.”
The importance George S Patton placed on military history was unique. No other military leader wrote so frequently in his letters or diaries about what he was reading and no one else left the legacy of his library. Not since Napoleon was a military leader’s library so well documented. George S Patton’s library was almost entirely inherited by his son, Major General George Patton III, and given to West Point. A small group of books was inherited by other descendants who sold them. Some years ago when I was discussing his father’s library with him, his only son (the Vietnam general) remarked, “My old man could afford to buy the books and he could afford to write in them – nobody else in the army had any money” – a typical Patton statement from son or father.
A well read copy attractively housed in a quarter leather blue book box.