4 out of 4 stars
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Can you imagine hearing the powerful engines of fighter airplanes flying in the clear blue sky? Do you smell the smoke? Do you hear the explosions or feel the agony of combat that could be your last? The days in the Mediterranean are hot, and the nights are cool, but there’s no time to sit on the beach and sip martinis. You can get ambushed at any given moment. Even the high ranks won’t defend you from the bullets of snipers or surprise attacks that can take place at any time, anywhere. It is World War II. It is also the setup of our story, Rescuing General Patton by Curtis Stephen Burdick.
The story begins as we meet General Patton’s granddaughter Julia. She hands some classified information about her grandfather to John Harding. John is an author and a retired US army major. The unique material fascinates him, and he promises to research the archives and figure out the rest of the story. General Patton kept the secret about what really happened to him in World War II to his grave. Now it becomes John’s mission, to tell the truth to the whole world. The narration shifts from the present to wartime Italy and General Patton’s headquarters. There we meet an angry General who is verbally lashing his commanders. Patton is furious as he thinks his people are not doing their job in the mountains. He figures he must go up there himself. It is not his habit to waste time, so off he goes.
Regrettably, Patton’s vehicle hits a mine, and the Germans capture the injured General. Patton thinks fast, and his bold actions allow him to hide his true identity from his captors and even send a messenger to headquarters. Patton has his faults, but he is still one of the best military strategists in the army. His superiors respect his leading abilities and know his disappearance could indeed affect the outcome of the entire war. Time is crucial. They quickly prepare an unprecedented scam to hide the truth and rescue Patton. The execution falls on General Bradley, who sends Captain Pizzio and his rangers on a rescue mission. Pizzio’s premonition tells him this mission is suicidal, but he doesn’t seem to have a choice. Pizzio and his rangers get involved in the most surprising and crazy rescue mission ever. Do they succeed before Germans discover their prisoner’s real identity?
Curtis Stephen Burdick has created a real page-turner. Still and all, I must add that I did not enjoy the backstory with Julia Patton Walton and John Harding. I recognize the author’s intentions. However, it was a frustrating start to this otherwise well-crafted story. Nevertheless, once the events in Italy started building up, I could not lay down this book. The intensity and realistic feel of the events got my heart pounding. I swear I could smell the sweat in my nostrils and taste the blood in my mouth. Many soldiers got killed. To my relief, the author did not go into too much detail while describing these incidents. In addition, he succeeded in creating unforgettable characters. The three protagonists, philosophical General Bradley, crafty General Patton, and rebellious Captain Pizzio, easily live up to any other character known from historical fiction stories about World War II. Furthermore, this book shows the craziness of war efficiently.
Giving a justified rating to this book was a struggle. General Patton, Captain Pizzio, General Bradley, and their adventures undoubtedly deserve a full rating. The problem was that I was not completely satisfied with the backstory. I did not have any other complaints about the book, and deducting a star just for that felt unjust. In addition, this story was very well-edited. I counted this detail in favor of the book and decided to give it 4 out of 4 stars.
I eagerly recommend Rescuing General Patton by Curtis Stephen Burdick to every historical fiction lover who enjoys wartime stories. It distantly reminded me of the movie Saving Private Ryan and was definitely equally entertaining. I must mention that the characters use a reasonable number of profane words, but the nature of the story makes it somehow acceptable. Consequently, I would not feel comfortable recommending this book to minors.
Rescuing General Patton
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