November 6, 2014
A book about General George S. Patton? Of course I am interested in reading it! The author, Bill O’reilly, even suggests (in a humble and selfless fashion of course) that you rush out and buy it in order to gift it to a veteran on Veteran’s Day. In my case, I checked out the eBook from the local library. Regardless, all veterans will indeed like this book if given the chance to read it.
This is the latest installment in the “Killing” series of books coauthored by Bill O’reilly and Martin Dugard. Other titles in the series are “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Kennedy,” and “Killing Jesus.”
“Killing Patton” is subtitled “The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General.” The authors put forth a theory that Patton did not die as the result of the official story of an unfortunate automobile accident, but instead, was deliberately killed. At the end of the book, they ask that the government reopen the case, and conduct a full investigation to research the possibility of the death being a murder.
The authors do not express with any certainty that the official explanation of Patton’s death is incorrect, but instead, lay out facts, and suggest there is enough uncertainty that authorities should research the matter further.
Most of the book is devoted to telling the story of Patton’s leadership of the Third Army in the European Theater of World War II. It summarizes some key battles and other moments in the last half of the war, with profiles of other high level leaders during the period. The authors also discuss relationships these men had with women outside of the bounds of marriage.
Although Nazis have few fans, it is annoying to have some of them described with pejoratives like “despicable” without any context or explanation. In the aftermath of the war, Patton’s decision to use low-level former Nazis to help run post offices and keep trains rolling drew criticism from many in America. While Patton did not consider the totality of the German people to be “despicable,” it is not clear where the authors themselves come down on this issue. Many of the Nazis were indeed “despicable,” but where terms like this are used, additional explanatory information should be included.
Overall, this is a solid work, and is recommended reading for anyone interested in World War II history, and Patton in particular. It presents a well rounded view of the man, to include faults and deficiencies in his character too. The U.S. Army’s most effective combat leader certainly had no shortage of enemies, and the authors make a good case for continuing an investigation into the circumstances of his early demise.
This book earns four out of five stars.