Why was Patton’s Gap such an ungodly slog? It’s written at a fifth-grade level, just like I like it; it should have been a breeze. And it’s a great story. The nicest people on Earth (Canadians) fight the worst people on earth (12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend), and the fate of mankind hangs in the balance while a nation burns. It’s like Lord of the Rings with French women and tanks. But Richard Rohmer – there’s no polite way to say this -- makes it really, really dull.
Really, really, really, really, really dull.
Part of the problem is that Rohmer has nothing to say. And part of the problem is that Rohmer says the same things, over and over. These aren’t Homeric epithets, repeated for poetic effect. They’re just padding. Although they do make 200 pages feel like an epic, and your eyes glaze over, and pretty soon it’s the rosy fingered dawn.
For example, did you hear what happened to Patton in Sicily?
Bradley… like Patton, had gained battle experience there and in Sicily… It was General Marshall who made the decision between the two men… By that time Patton had been through his notorious Sicilian slapping incidents. -- P. 27
In Sicily, (Patton) had commanded with huge success the U.S. Seventh Army… Unfortunately, the shimmering glory from Patton’s Sicilian military successes, which had established him in the minds of the American public as a military genius and leader of equal, if not superior status to Montgomery, would soon be dimmed by the growing black shadow of the ‘slapping incidents.’ -- P.28
In contrast to the diminutive, bantam rooster image of Montgomery was his arch-competitor from the Sicily days, Lieutenant General George Smith Patton, Jr… -- P.29
We knew who General Patton was. Old Blood and Guts, the American general who got into trouble slapping a soldier in Sicily. -- P. 42
By the time he received that message Patton knew not only that his junior, Bradley, was to be the American Army commander but that his Sicily equal and competitor for glory, Montgomery, would command the invasion force. -- P.43
Patton was the only American general whom the Germans respected. They were certain that because of his success in Sicily he would undoubtedly be in the vanguard of any fighting force… -- P.45
Thus (Patton) was paying penance for his Sicily slappings… -- P. 47
At 10:25 Patton and party were airborne. It was almost a year to the minute from the time he had left Algiers for the Sicily that he and his then equal, Montgomery, would conquer. -- P. 126
“But let me make the point again at the risk of being wearisome.” -- Montgomery, as cited by Rohmer, P. 140