Monty and Patton were two of the best known Allied generals of the Second World War, and had a famously difficult relationship, with very different styles of command and of campaigning, with Monty famous for his slow careful approach and Patton for his rapid daring advances.
Despite their differences the two men's lives followed rather similar patterns. They were born two years apart, joined their respective armies within a year of each other, served in the First World War then fought in North Africa, Sicily and finally Normandy and the campaign in Western Europe in 1944-45. The similar patterns to their lives gives Reynolds a clear framework for the earlier part of the book, before the two men's paths cross in North Africa,
Once we reach the Second World War Reynold's assumes that the reader is familiar with events, and only gives outlines of events, instead focusing on the two generals and the way they reacted to events.
One surprise is that some of Monty's 'slow' advances were actually quicker than some of Patton's rapid ones, with the 1,850 miles from Alamein to Tunis being the quickest either man achieved.
Reynolds shows that the two men had quite a bit in common - amongst other things an expectation of high standards from their subordinates, the ability to have a big impact in a short time on taking command of an army, the ability to seriously annoy their peers, and massive egos. Needless to say neither man was a particularly good coalition general, and it is perhaps a good thing that Patton was very rarely under Monty's direct command (the only exception being a short period in Normandy in August 1944).
This is an interesting approach to the period, providing a very direct contrast between the American and British experiences of both the First and Second World Wars. Monty's experience of the bloodbath of the trenches and Patton's brief experience of tank warfare in 1918 emerge as having been particularly important in forming their views of warfare.
I The Early Years
II Gentleman Cadets
III Soldiering before WWI
IV Montgomery in WWI
V Patton - February 1915 to May 1917
VI Patton in WWI
VII Montgomery between the World Wars
IX Montgomery - September 1939 to August 1942
X Patton between the World Wars
XI Montgomery in North Africa - August to November 1942
XII Patton in North Africa - November 1942 to April 1943
XIII Montgomery - El Alamein to Tunis
XIV Countdown to Sicily
XVI Montgomery in Italy
XVII Patton in Exile
XVIII In England before D-Day
XIX Return to France
XX The Normandy Campaign
XXI Separate Ways
XXII The Battle of the Bulge
XXIII Into Germany
XXIV Triumph and Disappointment
XXV Patton - May to December 1945
XXV Montgomery - May to December 1945
Author: Michael Reynolds
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 2005 original