A masterpiece of seminal research, Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton is an extraordinary, detailed, and unique biography of a remarkable woman married to a now legendary American military leader in both World War I and World War II. This exceptionally well written, organized and presented biography is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a four page Family Tree, forty-four pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and an eight page Index … Lady of the Army is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library 20th Century American Biography and World War II History collections.
—Midwest Book Review
Reading Lady of the Army was like reading an encyclopedia! It was not only that there was so much material, but that it was all interesting, informative, and relevant. Stefanie Van Steelandt brought Beatrice Ayer Patton back to life as a multifaceted person with so many talents that she could not be appreciated fully if she were only known as “Mrs. George”. Although she makes very clear that Beatrice was most dedicated to supporting her husband and his stature, there was much more to her than loyal devotion. I consider Stefanie’s book to be a triumph, for taking on a worthy subject as no other author or researcher has, and for having the courage to do it as a first-time writer.
—Joanne Holbrook Patton
I am speechless and overjoyed at the level of detail and description you [Stefanie Van Steelandt] provide in this incredible body of work. I enjoy reading biographies, but your work is simply unparalleled against today’s writings. Thank you for all of your research and writing. I can’t wait to read more!
General George S. Patton is one of the most studied military leaders in history. Dozens of books, hundreds of articles, millions of words have been written about his exploits in war, but now comes a unique book that completes the story of Patton the man and the warrior. Written by Stefanie Van Steelandt, Lady of the Army is the remarkable history of Beatrice Patton, wife of General George S. Patton, a true renaissance woman and backbone of the famous military family.
This carefully detailed book, impressive in its research, tells the compelling story of Beatrice Ayer Patton, growing up as the daughter of a wealthy Boston tycoon, then meeting and later marrying a young Army officer named George S. Patton. Beatrice would pour her heart and soul into the career of her soldier, ultimately becoming the strong and central character in the development of George Patton through his long and storied Army career.
While later books about Patton and even the contemporaneous coverage of Patton went to great lengths to explain what motivated his persona and how his training and personal courage impacted his career, very little attention was ever paid to Beatrice Patton, his wife, the mother of his children, and without any doubt, the most important figure in his life. Every decision, every thought, every reaction to events by Patton were shared with Beatrice in daily written correspondence that was a mainstay throughout Patton’s career.
Author Stefanie Van Steelandt set out to tell a story largely unknown to the public and even those who may know much of the Patton legacy. She has done so with a book that combines extraordinary detail with a captivating biographical narrative. To truly know George Patton is to truly know Beatrice Patton. Her unwavering support of her husband, her motivating letters to him when he was down and letters that scolded him when she felt she should, were one-half of a partnership that transcended time and geography. They were as one and it can be argued Patton would not and could not have accomplished all he did without her support.
Lady of the Army is one of the great books about the Patton family because it fully explores the life of Beatrice Patton and, importantly, helps the reader understand and appreciate how the lives of Beatrice and George Patton were intertwined. Importantly, Van Steelandt not only conducted the necessary research to write this book, but then took her journey to the next level by so deeply exploring the Patton-related archives, the massive Patton correspondence, the books and studies of Patton’s career, and so much more.
It is not an exaggeration to write Lady of the Army is the most complete study ever undertaken to chronicle the life and times of Beatrice Patton and owing to Van Steelandt’s extensive research, it will also rank as a first-rate look at the life and career of General George S. Patton. This book is magnificent and a literary triumph!
—Brian M. Sobel, Author of The Fighting Pattons
As far as I am concerned, this book finished the epic story and covered the truth of General Patton’s death, the controversy about Jean Gordon, and the family as they dealt with his legacy. The author covers topics not generally known and brings closure to the myths surrounding his death with real facts. I have a large library of books about General Patton and have written about him and his Third Army. This book will now take an honored place in my library. I rated it five stars because of its honesty and factual accounts that are well-researched.
—Denny Hair, Author of Patton Hidden in Plain Sight
A unique book in the military biography field, Van Steelandt does a masterful job detailing the life of Beatrice Ayer Patton, General George S. Patton’s wife. More than just the wife of a famous general adding to George’s career and reputation and maintaining it after his death, Beatrice was also a successful writer and sportswoman of her own. Lady of the Army is an enjoyably readable book about an important woman of the 20th century, as well as an academic book with extensive references and background.
—Ross Rojek, Manhattan Book Review
Stefanie Van Steelandt has accomplished beautifully to reveal the real personal lives each led. Most written works focus on the military only and mention few sparse passages of what was an intense special connection between George and Beatrice. Bravo.
A meticulously researched and exhaustive account of the life of Beatrice Ayer Patton, wife of the Second World War General George S. Patton.
It is an historical irony that General George S. Patton, who perhaps took more risks and lived more dangerously than any other American general during the Second World War, survived the conflict, only to die less than four months after its conclusion as the result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident. It was a cruel ending for his wife Beatrice, who, as author Stefanie van Steelandt reveals in this lavish biography of Patton’s wife of thirty-five years, had long harbored doubts that her husband would survive the war.
Women’s history has come a long way in recent years, with various historians doing much to reveal their frequently untold or underplayed contributions to events. Such stories are frequently shot through with poignant and sometimes tragic re-tellings of the ways in which the efforts of women were marginalized by the men around them, how their achievements were underplayed or even claimed by their male counterparts and competitors, and the ingenious strategies that they devised to circumvent patriarchal imperatives and continue their endeavors. LADY OF THE ARMY is a handsome contribution to women’s history, but it hardly conforms to this pattern. As van Steelandt points out, Beatrice Patton was no Eleanor Roosevelt when it came to championing the rights of women (though she befriended her and wrote approvingly of her ideas). On the contrary: she was devoted to her husband and his conception of himself as one of the “great men” of history that she directed her life’s efforts to helping him achieve his ambitions. It was, as van Steelandt notes, a fascinating life, but it was one lived in Patton’s shadow, and Beatrice was happy for it to be that way, anointing their house in Massachusetts with the trophies of war that Patton so proudly sent back to her–a German helmet riddled with bullet holes; a bust of Hitler, which he instructed should be put in a place where their pet dogs might find it of use.
Van Steelandt’s agenda in this regard extends no further than ensuring that Beatrice receives her due. Dedication to another, she emphasizes, does not require denial of the self, and Beatrice kept a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in Bostonian high society and military circles. She was an accomplished amateur pianist, spoke several languages, and enjoyed the fine arts, but expressed misgivings about life as a socialite: she hated small talk and dressed unpretentiously. What shines through time and again is the genuine closeness of the bond between husband and wife. The Pattons wrote to each other regularly, and the affection and love is plain in their correspondence, from which van Steelandt liberally quotes. Beatrice’s attentions were not merely of a conventional type, though she did attend to her husband’s atrocious spelling (it has been speculated that Patton was dyslexic), but were also concerned with bulwarking his reputation. A case in point is what has been referred to as “the Patton incident”. In late 1943, Patton visited a field hospital in Italy in which he noticed a patient who was apparently uninjured. Patton lost his temper, and, accusing the man of cowardice, slapped him across the face with his glove and ejected him from the hospital. A similar incident occurred a few days later. The matter was hushed up until a newspaperman desperate for a story went public with it; shortly afterward, Beatrice found herself having to field questions from a horde of journalists. She defended her husband stoutly, pointing out the folly of his conduct and that he had shown contrition. It was a measured, impassioned response from a woman whose loyalty and dedication to her spouse never wavered.
Weighing in at a hefty 787 pages, LADY OF THE ARMY is no afternoon read. It is meticulously researched, cogently expressed, and richly detailed portrait of a woman whose contribution to the successes of her husband have never been fully acknowledged. Van Steelandt’s achievement is to elevate them to a position of dignity, and to deny the trappings of marginalization that so often accompany subservience. Beatrice may have been, as it were, the tail of the kite, but as she once suggested to a group of army wives, “How high can a kite fly without its tail?”
A magisterial recounting of the life of George S. Patton’s wife Beatrice, Stefanie van Steelandt’s LADY OF THE ARMY offers a frank and sympathetic portrait of the woman behind the general.
—Craig Jones, IndieReader