Patton Book Author: Faith Was Central to Army General’s Success

Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012 12:22 PM

By Todd Beamon and Katie Lotman

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Gen. George S. Patton was “probably the best student in military history that the United States Army has ever produced,” biographer Michael Keane tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

“He read every treatise on warfare ever written. He would take copious notes on 4-by-6 index cards for every book that he ever read. It was that immense knowledge of history that he had that he could bring to battle. So he could almost anticipate what the enemy was going to do next.”

Watch the exclusive interview here.



Keane, the fellow of National Security Affairs at the Pacific Council on International Policy, is the author of the book, “Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer.” A graduate of the University of Southern California, Keane holds advanced degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Texas School of Law.

He accompanied Vietnamese troops into Cambodia as they fought the Khmer Rouge and has been embedded with U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

An only child, Patton (1885-1945) was greatly influenced by his father, a California lawyer and businessman who “really infused all of his unfulfilled military ambition into his son,” Keane said.

“His father got him into West Point. His father told him all of these romanticized stories about warfare and history – and the son absorbed it all like a sponge and really wound up kind of fulfilling all of his father’s ambitions as well.”

During World War II, Nazi generals feared Patton the most, Keane said.

“He was probably the most aggressive and combative general we had in World War II. He also had this amazing – what we call kind of ‘a fingertip feel’ in the military – for the battle situation and how it would develop and what would happen next. He could almost anticipate what the Nazi enemy was going to do on the battlefield.”

Keane’s book also discusses the role of faith in Patton’s life.

Despite earning the nickname “Old Blood and Guts” – even being widely remembered for slapping two privates – Patton was a great man of faith.

“Faith affected everything in Patton’s entire life. Even as a young boy, he was groomed by his father to believe he had this destiny – and that destiny was really kind of a divine destiny that God had planned this path for him that he would one day fight in the greatest war ever fought. And that’s exactly what wound up happening.

“But one thing that struck me as I went through Patton’s personal papers and his diary and his journal, you can’t help but be struck by how often there are references to God, to faith, to prayer,” Keane added. “Anytime Patton had a challenge, he turned to God for assistance. Any time he had a victory, he thanked God for his victories.

“And, of course, there’s the famous example of the prayer for fair weather that he had his chaplain actually write just before the Battle of the Bulge to ask God for good weather for battle.”

For that offensive – in December 1944 across Belgium, Luxembourg and northeastern France – Patton asked Col. James O'Neill to write the prayer. He also ordered 250,000 prayer cards distributed to every soldier in his Third Army and 3,200 training letters to officers and chaplains to “urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as to fight,” Patton said.

He won and, with clearing weather, Patton awarded O’Neill the Bronze Star on the spot on the battlefield.

“So that gives you a sense of how important faith and prayer was to Gen. Patton,” Keane said.

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