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If it weren’t for Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, biographer Stanley P. Hirshson might never have written his 800-plus-page tome about World War II Gen. George S. Patton. While working on a book about Sherman’s life, Hirshson spent countless hours holed up in the West Point research library. There, he started chatting up a history professor who was putting the finishing touches on his own study of Patton. After much good-natured haggling over the minute details of Patton’s life, Hirshson decided to set the record straight with a Patton book of his own. Faced with the vast number of existing volumes exploring the life of one of the best-known generals in American history, Hirshson decided that, to distinguish his work from the pack, he would have to dig up and deliver previously overlooked information—and he does. General Patton: A Soldier’s Life contains all of the usual war stories, but what sets it apart is the book’s focus on the human element of its subject: We all know Patton was a brilliant tactician, but who knew the man couldn’t spell for shit? His inspirational—albeit foul-mouthed—speeches are the stuff of legend, but Patton also wrote touching poems for his feisty wife, Bea, and their daughters. Hirshson invades at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Sarah Godfrey)