West Point graduate 2nd Lt. George S. Patton Jr. in 1912 had everything—good looks, charisma, Olympic athleticism, a fortune worth about $45 million in today’s currency, and ruthless ambition. He came from a long line of military heroes dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. However, his father, after a brilliant start (Valedictorian at Virginia Military Institute) was a timid soul, lacking in drive, and never served in the military. Young Georgie Patton was taught at an early age that his mission in life was to rescue the family honor by covering himself with military glory, dying in victorious battle if possible. This blossomed into a classic case of what today would be diagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Patton meets all nine of the Criteria in the psychiatrist’s bible, the DSM-5 (only five being required for a diagnosis).
This book (87,000 words; 800 endnotes; 39 photos, maps, and drawings) establishes Patton’s NPD diagnosis, details how it developed, and shows how it consistently got him into trouble. He commits a series of offenses against his own soldiers, including killing one in World War I with a shovel to the head, from which he narrowly escapes court martial. He repeatedly belittles and humiliates his subordinate officers. He amply demonstrates grandiosity, vanity, social climbing, exhibitionism, sense of entitlement, exploitation of others, lack of empathy, envy, and snobbishness—all characteristics of NPD. His hunger for headlines and inability to restrain his public pronouncements put him in the doghouse and damage his career advancement. I show how NPD erodes Patton’s military judgment, leading to failures at Brolo (Sicily), Fort Driant (France), the Orscholtz Switch (Germany), and Hammelburg (Germany). The shocker in this story is the realization that the iconic American hero was an emotionally arrested, pre-moral, adult toddler wielding the almost God-like power to command a half million soldiers in battle.
In the book I give full credit to General Patton for his genius as America’s top broken-field runner, for his mastery of combined arms as he blitzed across France and the Palatinate, his relief of Bastogne, and his excellence in troop training and morale building. Having NPD, like most other illnesses, should not by itself be taken as a condemnation of the sufferer. In the final analysis, each reader should take into account Patton’s great contributions to winning World War II and uplifting the spirits of the nation.
Narcissism has recently come to the fore, particularly with the presidential election of Donald Trump (Aylford, Henry. Vanity Fair, Nov. 11, 2015). This book should serve as a cautionary tale: “Be careful whom you follow. After an impressive beginning, the Narcissist will disappoint you and leave a trail of wreckage.” General Patton is still a hot topic in popular culture. The Cowboy General’s aggressive behavior is often adopted as the perfect role model for how to be a manly man. His extraordinary powers touted by some pundits today, including his supposed ability to defeat ideological threats such as ISIS “in a week,” and his “principles of leadership” in business (which he spurned), are questioned in this book. Finally, I believe that it is far more important to understand Patton’s behavior in war and in his life than to speculate about what may or may not have befallen him during his last ten days while he lay paralyzed, à la O’Reilly and Dugard’s best seller, Killing Patton.
Mar. 22, 2017 – Today I received a review from Kirkus Reviews, a professional reviewing company for the past 82 years which has cultivated a reputation as “the world’s toughest critics.” The review placed my book, “Patton: The Madness behind the Genius” in their recommended (top 10%) category.
They said in part,
“A radical new biography that should interest historians, military strategists, and psychologists…
Sudmeier meticulously reconsiders the general’s finest moments, such as the 1944 liberation of Bastogne, Belgium, and his worst disasters, such as the infamous 1945 raid of a prisoner-of-war camp in Hammelburg, Germany. Ultimately, the author concludes that Patton suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, demonstrated by a volatile combination of a superiority complex and fragile ego. Sudmeier also assesses Patton’s private life, characterizing him as a relentless social climber and a largely dysfunctional parent. Especially for such a brief study, this is impressively comprehensive, including detailed analysis of Patton’s personal and professional relationships as well as his effectiveness as a general…a thorough, insightful account.”
— Kirkus recommended reviews.
The full review is available at