D.W. Ulsterman’s Review: “KILLING PATTON”

Bill O’Reilly has created quite a publishing machine in his “killing” series of books. A running joke among various authors and publishers is the hope he will kill them off next so they too can have a bestseller.

Joking aside, while some of the O’Reilly/Martin Dugard historical books have been pretty good (Killing Lincoln) and others less so (Killing Kennedy), Killing Patton is perhaps, alongside the mega-hit Killing Jesus, the most difficult endeavor for the historical author Martin Dugard and his high profile Fox host, Bill O’Reilly given that Patton is a lesser known historical figure (compared to the other subjects of the killing series) whose demise has long been mired in mystery.

 

George S. Patton was an enigma both on and off the battlefield, and certainly among the most influential and dynamic military leaders of the 20th Century. Bold, brash, temperamental, combative, and a man some have suggested was among the first public casualties of a more politically correct era that would come to dominate America decades after the (in)famous general’s demise.

Patton was a man who loved the military and detested politicians and who could not fathom why one entity would come to be ruled by the other. Where contemporaries like Dwight Eisenhower was able to move between those conflicted worlds of soldier and politics, Patton resented the intrusion, a resentment that might very well have contributed to his seemingly untimely death resulting from an automobile accident.

Therein we find the basic premise for Killing Patton.

Prior to delving into Patton’s death, the book offers readers a colorful and well-researched detailing of various and important battles that would cripple Hitler’s Germany and set off a series of moves and counter-moves with and then against a Soviet Union that General Patton protested against loudly to any and all who would listen.  Patton believed the Soviets to be America’s enemy as much as Germany or Japan were, and repeatedly warned of the aggressive nature of Stalin’s hopes for European domination. These protests came despite repeated warnings from Patton’s politically motivated military superiors, who grew increasingly agitated over the popular general’s “insubordination.”

From here Killing Patton examines the myriad of possible motivations of those who might rather see the general dead. Despite the authors’ assurances they are not “conspiracy theorists” the latter half of the book is just that – though it is well researched and for anyone who enjoys historical who-done-its, quite entertaining. It really does read like a good mystery novel.

Of the killing series, Killing Patton ranks among the best, and though Patton himself is not nearly as well known, or his death as nationally traumatic as John F. Kennedy’s, O’Reilly and Dugard’s treatment of the Patton mystery is far superior to their version of the JFK assassination, perhaps in part because Killing Kennedy was a rather simplistic rehash of theories already well known, while Patton is the telling of a far less known but no less interesting tale.

 

GRADE:  B+

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