Brothers, Rivals, Victors
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 28 Nov 2012
Full Title: Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe
Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, and Omar Bradley were among the most prominent American generals in the war against Germany and Italy. Though not unique, on top of the professional relationship they also shared a close degree of personal connection between them. Bradley had loose connections with Eisenhower dating back to the classrooms of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where they would graduate with the class of 1915. Although Eisenhower and Patton would not meet until 1919, the two developed an extremely close friendship as they together played an important role in the development of US Army tactics in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in the field of armored warfare. In Brothers, Rivals, Victors, author Jonathan Jordan took a look at the interactions between the three men, with major world events in the background.
While the book made weak individual biographies of each of the three men, it shined in the arena of how each of their affinities with and frustrations toward each other, things that I would much more think of between my friends and I rather than between high ranking officers, affected a military campaign. While a biography of Eisenhower might detail his rise, Jordan offered that Patton's support as a dear friend and Bradley and Patton's collective tactical mastery that executed Eisenhower's campaign. As Bradley developed into a capable strategist by the time the Allies invaded Western Europe, his mentor-student dual role with Patton played a critical role in his professional growth. Finally, Jordan also illustrated how Patton's tactical genius scored success for Bradley and Eisenhower, but it also took Bradley and Eisenhower's patience and political protection that kept Patton in the field. The author successfully dove deep into these dynamics that dedicated biographies of a single person might not be able to do due to scope limitations. As for topics outside of their relationship, this book was slightly on the weaker side. Military history buffs might be disappointed at the author's treatment of the war itself, which was presented at a very high level; while Bernard Montgomery graced many pages, he was presented rather one-dimensionally; finally, at times I thought that this book added little fact that was not already known. But again, I tried to keep in mind that Jordan was focusing on his analysis of the dynamics of the three title characters, and there were many great books already written that better covered the tangential topics.
The writing style of Brothers, Rivals, Victors was very informal, and the author seemed to have written the book with the assumption that his readers would be comfortable with casual American-English (he used a lot of American idioms and frequently included American cultural references) and with military slang. American football terminologies were often used in my recollection without explanation. Sentences such as "flying boxcars cruising at high altitudes were notorious for scattering their explosives all over creation" assumed that the readers knew that some shells could be as large as train cars, and that readers already knew that "creation" referred to the concept of the world being created by a higher being, and this metaphor gave the sense of a wide area. Having learned English as a second language and not entirely brought up in the Western Hemisphere, although I had no trouble in terms of understanding Jordan's writing as far as I could tell, I suppose I could be a bit more sensitive in this arena.
I had reviewed this book in its audio book format. William Hughes did a good job reading the book, keeping good pace, reading with a steady volume, and enunciating with clarity.
Overall, Brothers, Rivals, Victors presented very little new facts, but it was a good study of the ups and downs of the relationships between the three men, not only as professional soldiers but also as friends, offering analysis that I might not find elsewhere with such comprehensiveness.
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944