A Fateful Friendship Eisenhower and Patton

T hey never had much in common. George Patton was a conceited, spoiled child from an extremely wealthy, snobbish family. He dressed as he pleased, said what he liked, and did as he wished. He cursed like a trooper and told off his inferiors -- and sometimes his superiors -- with profane eloquence. Although he moved easily in America's highest society, many people, soldiers included, thought Patton vulgar. Dwight Eisenhower came from the wrong side of the tracks in a tiny midwestern town. He had to support himself while in high school by working nights in a creamery; he wanted to be well liked, and he obeyed his superiors. The only thing he did to attract attention was to do his duty quietly and efficiently.

Patton was an erratic genius, given to great outbursts of energy and flashes of brilliant insight. He was capable of sustained action, but not of systematic thought. A superstitious man, he was much taken by his own déjà vu and his sensations of having been somewhere before; he devoutly believed that he had fought with Alexander the Great and with Napoleon, among others. Eisenhower had a steady, orderly mind. When he looked at a problem, he would take everything into account, weigh possible alternatives, and deliberately decide on a course of action. Patton seldom arrived at a solution through an intellectual process; rather, he felt that this or that was what he should do, and he did it.

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