Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General

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Overview

Readers around the world have thrilled to Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, and Killing Jesus—riveting works of nonfiction that journey into the heart of the most famous murders in history. Now from Bill O’Reilly, anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, comes the most epic book of all in this multimillion-selling series: Killing Patton.

General George S. Patton, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances in the months following the end of World War II. For almost seventy years, there has ...

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Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General

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Overview

Readers around the world have thrilled to Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, and Killing Jesus—riveting works of nonfiction that journey into the heart of the most famous murders in history. Now from Bill O’Reilly, anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, comes the most epic book of all in this multimillion-selling series: Killing Patton.

General George S. Patton, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances in the months following the end of World War II. For almost seventy years, there has been suspicion that his death was not an accident—and may very well have been an act of assassination. Killing Patton takes readers inside the final year of the war and recounts the events surrounding Patton’s tragic demise, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2014

The latest entry in Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing series recounts the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of George S. Patton, the decorated World War II general, who died due to injuries suffered in an auto accident at the tail end of the conflict. Through a detailed account of Patton’s final years in command, the book considers the myriad parties that benefitted from his untimely death, from Joseph Stalin to an American spy looking to remain cozy with the Soviet Union. In clear, accessible language that takes us inside the minds of historical figures, O’Reilly and Dugard create a blend of fact and fiction as riveting as any thriller. See all of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2014.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805096682
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/23/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 602
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly is the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He also writes a syndicated newspaper column and is the author of several number-one bestselling books.

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. His book Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone has been adapted into a History Channel special. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three sons.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Room 110

U.S. Army 130th Station Hospital

Heidelberg, Germany

December 21, 1945

5:00 p.m.

The man with forty-five minutes to live cannot defend himself.

Gen. George S. Patton Jr. fears no one. But now he sleeps flat on his back in a hospital bed. His upper body is encased in plaster, the result of a car accident twelve days ago. Room 110 is a former utility closet, just fourteen feet by sixteen feet. There are no decorations, pictures on the walls, or elaborate furnishings—just the narrow bed, white walls, and a single high window. A chair has been brought in for Patton’s wife, Beatrice, who endured a long, white-knuckle flight over the North Atlantic from the family home in Boston to be at his bedside. She sits there now, crochet hook moving silently back and forth, raising her eyes every few moments to see if her husband has awakened.

Patton is fond of the finer things in life, and during the course of the Second World War, he made his battlefield headquarters in mansions, palaces, castles, and five-star hotels. But right now the sole concession to luxury is that, as a four-star general, Patton does not have to share his room with another patient.

"Old Blood and Guts," as his soldiers refer to the sixty-year-old legend, is a man both revered and feared. He has many enemies. Thus the need for the white-helmeted armed guards posted directly outside his door, at the end of the long hallway leading to the hospital lobby, and at every entrance and exit of the building. Nicknamed for their helmets, these "Snowdrops" protect Patton from the American journalists who have descended on this quiet former cavalry barracks in a great pack, ignoring the ongoing Nuremberg war crime trials so that they might write about Patton’s accident and expected recovery. General Patton "is getting well like a house afire," the Associated Press reported four days ago, basing its information on the army’s daily 6:00 p.m. briefing about his condition. The story also reported that Patton sat up in bed, throwing off his injury "with a speed reminiscent of his wartime advances."

The truth, however, is far different. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. is paralyzed from the neck down. Bones in his spine were dislocated when his car collided with an army truck full of drunken joyriding soldiers. Patton’s number three cervical vertebra was shattered, badly bruising his spinal cord. The good news is that he has recovered some movement in his extremities. The bad news is that his doctors believe it is highly unlikely he will walk again.

The reporters don’t know this, and so they work overtime to invade Patton’s privacy to see his amazing recovery for themselves. Some have tried to sneak into Room 110 dressed as nurses or orderlies. Others have bribed hospital staff with Hershey bars and nylons. Thanks to the sentries, however, all of them have failed. The closest call was when Richard H. O’Regan, the same reporter from the Associated Press who wrote of Patton’s remarkable recovery, cadged an interview with Patton’s nurse by pretending to be a patient. For his troubles, O’Regan was able to reveal to the world that doctors were allowing Patton to sip a thimbleful of whisky each night with dinner.

But reporters are the least of Patton’s worries. Throughout the course of the Second World War, he made many high-ranking enemies in Moscow, Berlin, London, and even Washington, DC. Patton’s fiery determination to speak the truth had many powerful men squirming not only during the war, but also afterward. He recently went on the record praising his former German enemies for their skills as soldiers, while also criticizing the Soviet Union as being a foe rather than an ally of the United States. Some have come to see Patton as a roadblock to world peace. And now Patton is at his most vulnerable, an easy target for any of those enemies.

A year ago to this day, Patton was in the midst of the most glorious battle of his career, racing across France with his beloved Third Army to rescue American forces pinned down at the crossroads in Bastogne, Belgium. The German army had long considered Patton to be the Allies’ greatest general, but the Battle of the Bulge, as it would become known, elevated him to legendary status throughout the world.

Now the swaggering, fearless renegade who prowled the front lines in a specially modified Dodge WC57 command car outfitted with a .50-caliber machine gun, siren, and two air horns to announce his arrival is hidden from the public. The George S. Patton who sleeps fitfully as Friday evening descends upon Heidelberg has a low pulse and a high fever. He drank eggnog for lunch and for a time felt upbeat, but his energy sagged before he finally fell asleep. A blood clot in his lungs made his face turn blue yesterday, and there are fears that another embolism might soon give him more trouble breathing.

The auto accident was brutal. Stitches and bruising cover Patton’s head from the bridge of his nose to the top of his scalp, marking the line where doctors sewed a Y-shaped flap of skin back onto his head. His face is gaunt from weight loss, and there are open holes in his cheekbones where doctors drilled into his face to insert steel fish hooks to hold his head in traction. But the general has a high pain threshold and has endured his sufferings with a smile and his usual blue humor. He banters with the nurses, who find him "cute." Despite the fact that he has taken a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse in the past few days, the general still expects to be flown to Beverly General Hospital in Boston to further his recovery.

Beatrice has been with him around the clock, reading to him and calling for the doctors when he has a hard time catching his breath. She has a small room of her own down the hall, but is rarely there. The former heiress is a plain woman with a charismatic personality who wed Patton just a year after he graduated from West Point. Throughout their thirtyfive-year marriage, Beatrice has braved the many hardships of military life for her beloved "Georgie," never wavering in her love and support.

Suddenly Patton wakes up. His dark blue eyes flick back and forth, searching for signs of Beatrice.

There she is.

"Are you all right, Georgie?" Beatrice asks. She is every bit as fiery as her husband, a fearless equestrienne and accomplished sailor.

Patton gazes intently at his wife. She is the only woman he ever truly loved, and the mother of his three children. Beatrice leans forward to pat her husband’s hand.

"It’s so dark," Patton says. "So late." He closes his eyes and falls back to sleep.

Beatrice soon leaves for the hospital mess, where she hopes to grab a quick dinner before returning to the bedside, not knowing that her husband has just spoken his last words.

At 6:00 p.m. the urgent news is delivered for Beatrice to return immediately to Room 110.

But she is too late.

The general whom Nazi Germany feared more than any other, the former Olympic pentathlete, the cavalry officer who once hunted the infamous Pancho Villa across the desert plains of Mexico, and the warrior who publicly stated that he wanted one day to be killed "by the last bullet, in the last battle, of the last war," is already dead.

✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

The official military report states that Gen. George S. Patton Jr. "died at 1745, 21 December 1945." A pulmonary embolism, brought on by his twelve days lying immobile, had weakened his heart. The official causes of death, as listed in the army adjutant general’s report, are "traumatic myelitis, transverse fourth cervical segment, pulmonary infarction, and myocardial failure, acute."

There is no autopsy. His body is immediately taken to the hospital basement and placed inside what was once a horse stall, where his personal four-star flag is laid over the corpse. At Beatrice’s request, Patton is laid to rest at the American Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg, near the scene of his greatest battlefield triumph. Years later, when Beatrice falls from a horse and dies, she will be denied burial next to her husband, so her children will secretly smuggle her ashes into Europe and sprinkle them atop the grave.

It is a grave that may hold even deeper secrets.

✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

The truth is, some do not believe Patton’s death was accidental. He had already survived several "accidents," including the time his personal airplane was almost shot down by a British Spitfire fighter plane in April 1945—almost miraculously, Patton escaped injury.

But the auto crash that paralyzed Patton on December 9, 1945, was a far different story. The two-and-a-half-ton GMC army truck that collided with the general’s touring car suddenly and inexplicably veered from the opposite lane and into Patton—as if intentionally trying to injure the general. Both the man driving the truck and his two passengers quickly vanished after the incident. No criminal charges were ever filed. No accountability was ever recorded.

Also, both the official accident report and several key witnesses soon went missing. And most ominous of all, a former American intelligence operative confessed in October 1979 that he had planned and participated in the assassination of Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

It was a shocking assertion that was mostly ignored.

And so it was that a man who saw so much death on the battlefields of Europe and Africa died in a most pedestrian way.

Officially.

Copyright © 2014 by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 414 )
Rating Distribution

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(234)

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(60)

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(34)

2 Star

(21)

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(65)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 414 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    Ryansta

    I am a 40 year student on the study of Patton and, having read every piece I can find on the subject, find most every one written with a bias or agenda pro or con of the man. Most of the 'cons' seem to show remarkable insecurity and tend to ignore 'results'. O'Reilly and his coauthor, in my estimation, probably have done the most objective job yet, rotten spots along with the good. I look forward to their next disection. Note: I paid for this book.

    64 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    Excellent!

    Excellent! Highly recommended. This history book is gripping. Since my dad was a POW during WWII, I appreciated the inclusion of the facts, battles, and famous figures. The book is written in a short and very readable style for the every one to understand. I stopped several times to research, on the web quickly, some of the famous people. The authors included information that was fascinating for both men and women. Another great book is the novel, The Partisan, by Willian Jarvis. It just won an Indie Medalian Award. The setting is also during WWII and the plot is based on actual events. It has strong male and female characters. Both books deserve A+++++++++

    44 out of 50 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2014

    The book tells a very complicated story in a way that is easy to

    The book tells a very complicated story in a way that is easy to read and follow. 

    39 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2014

    The death of George Patton has been of interest to me for years,

    The death of George Patton has been of interest to me for years, ever dince my Dad, who served in WWII, in Patton's 3rd Army, told me casually that Patton had been killed in an car accident when the war was all but over.
    That seemed a bit too simple, but I never followed up on it.  Although I haven't read any other of Bill O'Reilly's books, I thought I would give this a try, just to see what his approach would be.  I was engrossed almost from the
    start with the depth and factual nature of the writing.
    I think the issues involved are very complex, and that O'Reilly's/Dugard's recounting of the lengthy events leading up to Patton's death was necessary to funnel the historical events into what appears to culminate in a political
    reason for Patton's death, as opposed to a revenge killing.
    The WWII history was well-written and appropriate to the ultimate end of the story, although the true "end of the story" hasn't been determined yet.
    I enjoyed this book very much.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who would like to understand a reasonable and probable scenario for Patton's demise.  

    35 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    Very shallow

    There is very little evidence (and weak at that) of a plot to kill Patton in this book. Much of the book is a condensed history of World War Two after D Day and is employed more of a filler to stretch the story. Waste of time unless you want some light reading.

    29 out of 76 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2014

    Very readable and informative. I would recommend it to everyone

    Very readable and informative. I would recommend it to everyone.

    25 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    Could not put it down!

    If you enjoy history, you will enjoy this book.

    25 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2014

    Another piece of right wing garbage and lies

    Another piece of right wing garbage and lies

    22 out of 208 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2014

    So Martin Dugard writes a book and Bill O'Reilly takes credit fo

    So Martin Dugard writes a book and Bill O'Reilly takes credit for it. That's pretty low, Bill.

    20 out of 160 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2014

    Oreilly sucks

    Another revisionist history cranked out at record speed by the faux news icon. Save your money and go to the library and check out books on these people by reputable authors,

    19 out of 105 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2014

    What is this? Want my money back.

    Super...(ficial) to the n power. Want to be confused about this moment in history and about its main character? Then this is the "thing" to buy and while at it also waste your money and your time.

    19 out of 72 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    Good for war review. Not Patton

    Disappointing. Little on the mystery surrounding the details of the death. But good background of war.

    18 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2014

    Excellent

    This was one of thoes books you do not want to put down,As a history buff I was facinated by the "inside his head" narative bill o'reilly so carefully researched and shared with us.A bit of a anticlimactic ending ,but a very good read,nevertheless.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2014

    I really dont know why his books keep getting both bought and pu

    I really dont know why his books keep getting both bought and published. He cherry picks information at best, easy example is patton was EXTREMELY against the jews but wasnt mentioned in the book. o'reilly is no historian and is alllergic to facts on the best of days.

    15 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2014

    More ridiculous conspiracy theories from an unconscionable world

    More ridiculous conspiracy theories from an unconscionable world class charlatan and misery vulture.

    14 out of 100 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    A good read; interesting theory.

    A good read; interesting theory.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2014

    Exellent

    A really good book.

    10 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    Boobies

    Boobies

    10 out of 67 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2014

    Misleading

    This book has little to do with who killed Patton. It is a shallow review of WW2 in Europe followed by some already known points of interest concerning General Patton's death.

    This is not on par with Bill O'Reilly's previous efforts.

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    Suck

    Suck

    7 out of 93 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 414 Customer Reviews

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