New AUSA Book Highlights 'Best Tactical Mind' of WWII

New AUSA Book Highlights 'Best Tactical Mind' of WWII

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Here’s a quick quiz for readers.

George S. Patton (a man not known for sharing the spotlight) said there was one colleague who was “possessed of the soundest judgment and best tactical mind of any officer I know.”

That officer, who started the war years as Patton’s chief of staff and went on to command the U.S. Army’s II Corps, was also “the only officer that I [Patton] have ever rated ‘Superior’ in all categories.”

Who was that officer with the superior tactical mind? The answer: Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes.

Despite Patton’s admiration, Keyes is relatively unknown today. Fortunately, Maj. Gen. (ret.) James W. Holsinger, Jr. brings him well-deserved attention with the publication of a new title in the AUSA Book Program, Patton’s Tactician: The War Diary of Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes.

This text—edited to include historical background and correspondence between Keyes, Patton, and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower—shows readers Keyes’ contributions throughout World War II, from preparations for the invasion of North Africa through the early days of the Cold War in Germany and Austria.

The Book Program sat down with General Holsinger to talk about Patton’s Tactician.


AUSA: What inspired you to tackle this project?

Holsinger: Since no biography of Keyes or history of II Corps in World War II has been written, the publication of Keyes’ diary fills a void in the historiography of World War II. On a personal note, my father, Brig. Gen. James W. Holsinger, served as a senior II Corps and Seventh Army staff officer under General Keyes during World War II and the occupation of Germany. He considered Keyes to be an outstanding commander and role model. He would be delighted to see the accomplishments of his friend and mentor recognized by the publication of the diary.


AUSA: Patton was effusive in his praise for Keyes. How did he make such a strong impression?

Holsinger: Keyes was an outstanding officer, who served as a deputy to Patton at the division and corps level. By doing so, he was able to demonstrate his superb tactical ability thus earning high praise from Patton, who strongly supported Keyes’ assignment as commander of II Corps and Seventh Army.


AUSA: What was Eisenhower’s opinion of Keyes?

Holsinger: Eisenhower consistently demonstrated his strong support for Keyes, which is indicated by Keyes’ assignment as Seventh Army commander in the occupation of Germany while Eisenhower served as Military Governor of Occupied Germany, then as American High Commissioner in Occupied Austria while Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff of the US Army.


AUSA: After taking command of II Corps, Keyes served under Lt. Gen. Mark Clark in Italy. How did he contrast Clark’s style with Patton’s?

Holsinger: Keyes clearly found Patton’s style more decisive in nature than Clark’s. Much of Keyes’ unhappiness with Clark’s headquarters is directed at the Fifth Army senior staff, which he found to be indecisive.


AUSA: What is one thing you’d like readers to take away from Patton’s Tactician?

Holsinger: Readers of Patton’s Tactician should recognize that Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes was a remarkable senior American officer in World War II and the early Cold War period. His superb tactical ability was demonstrated by his capture of Rome on June 4, 1944, his breaking the German defenses at Bologna in 1945, and his support for a free and independent Austria in the first years of the Cold War.


Please visit to order a copy of Patton’s Tactician.