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: 9781410473653
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 10/8/2014
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Sales rank: 20,750
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.40 (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 is the author of many number-one bestselling books, including Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton.

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. He and his wife live in Southern California with their three sons.

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Read an Excerpt

Killing Patton

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


By Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2014 Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9669-9


CHAPTER 1

The Hills above Metz, France
October 3, 1944
12:02 P.M.


Private First Class Robert W. Holmlund is scared. He believes his life may be over at age twenty-one. The American assault is just two minutes old—two minutes that feel like twenty. The private serves as an explosives expert in the Third Army, Company B, Eleventh Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division. Holmlund is a student from the American heartland who left trade school to join the war. His senior commander is the most ferocious general on the Allied side, George S. Patton Jr. But unlike Patton, who now oversees his vast army from the safety of his headquarters twenty-five miles behind the front, Holmlund and the men of Baker Company are in grave danger as they sprint toward the heavily defended German fort known as Driant.

German machine-gun bullets whiz past Holmlund's helmet at twice the speed of sound. Heads and torsos shatter all around him. U.S. artillery thunders in the distance behind them, laying down cover fire. The forest air smells of gunpowder, rain, and the sharp tang of cordite. The ground is nothing but mud and a thick carpet of wet leaves. Here and there a bramble vine reaches out to snag his uniform and trip his feet. Over his broad shoulders, Holmlund wears a block of TNT known as a satchel charge. Grenades dangle from his cartridge belt like grapes on a vine. And in his arms, rather than carrying it by the wooden handle atop the stock, Holmlund cradles his fifteen-pound, four-foot-long Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, as he would an infant. Only, this baby is a killing machine, capable of firing 650 three-inch bullets per minute.

Though he doesn't show it, Robert W. Holmlund is scared, despite all that firepower, just like every single man in this lethal forest.

But there is no time to indulge his fear right now. No time for homesickness or doubt. Fort Driant looms four hundred yards distant. Everything about the fortress is a mystery, from the location of its big 150 mm howitzers to the maze of tunnels deep underground where its Wehrmacht inhabitants eat, sleep, pray, clean their rifles, plan their battles, and then suddenly poke their heads out of secret openings to kill.

Patton has ordered Baker Company to get inside Driant. The best way to do that is to climb on the roof, which is concealed by mounds of earth. From there, it's a matter of finding a doorway or some other hidden opening that will allow Baker to descend and wage war in the tunnels.

Baker is part of a two-pronged assault. On the opposite side of the fort, the men of Easy Company are also on the attack. But they do so warily, for Driant has already bloodied them once.

It happened six days ago. Skies were clear. P-47 fighter-bombers screamed in low on the morning of the assault, dropping napalm and thousand-pound bombs. American artillery then pounded Driant, shelling the Germans with deadly accuracy.

Easy Company launched their attack alongside the men of George Company at 1415 hours under a heavy smoke screen. They had no way of knowing that the aerial bombing and ground artillery had no effect on the Wehrmacht fighters, nor that the enemy was snug and secure within Driant's fifteen-foot-thick walls and in hidden forest pillboxes.

Step by step, thinking themselves unseen, the U.S. soldiers advanced. Fingers were on triggers as the men scanned the forest, waiting for the muzzle flashes that would expose the enemy. But the Germans did not shoot. Not yet. So Easy and George crept closer to Driant. With each passing moment, they became more convinced that the smoke screen had completely concealed them. They marched closer and closer, and still no German gunshots. Soon a thick tangle of barbwire loomed before the Americans, marking the outer perimeter of Driant's defenses. There was no way through the razor-sharp coils. The advance ground to a halt.

The Germans opened fire.

The autumn afternoon was rent by a terrifying sound the Americans knew all too well. Their slang for the high-speed ripping sound of a German MG-42 machine gun is "Hitler's Zipper." To the Wehrmacht, this killing tone is simply the "Bone Saw." MG-42s opened up from every direction. Bullets tore through the woods at twelve hundred rounds per minute, capable of killing a man from more than a half mile away.

But the machine guns were just the beginning. Soon mortars, rifles, and even heavy artillery pounded the Americans from every direction. And just like that, the American attack was over. Soldiers hugged the ground for four long hours as German gunners pinpointed their positions and took slow, deliberate aim. It was only after darkness fell that the men of Company E and Company G crawled back to the safety of the American lines.

September 27 was a bad day for the men of Easy. By the end of the fight, eighteen soldiers had been either killed or wounded.

Today will be even worse.

* * *

Private Holmlund can go no farther. Nor can the rest of Baker Company. The mountain of barbwire surrounding Driant blocks their path. Thirty feet tall and just as thick, the impenetrable tangle waits to trap any man unlucky enough to snag his uniform or his body within its tendrils. Clipping at it with hand cutters will take days—which is why Holmlund's company commander, Capt. Harry Anderson, has given the order: blow the wire to hell.

Behind him, Holmlund hears the low rumble of a Continental R-975 air-cooled engine. The telltale crunch of steel treads soon follows, announcing the arrival of an M-4 Sherman tank. Even as the German machine gunners continue to fire on Baker, the Sherman weaves through the trees and takes aim. Its 75 mm gun belches smoke as it fires a round of M-48 high explosive into the wire. A direct hit is soon followed by another, and then another. Within moments, the barbwire parts just enough for Baker Company to sprint through.

Captain Anderson splits the soldiers into three groups. Holmlund's squad continues toward Driant in a straight line, while the other two squads flank to the right. The landscape is pocked with shell craters, like a man-made lunar surface. Trees and shrubs grow randomly, offering just the slightest bit of camouflage from the German defenders.

The private is in the first wave of American attackers. He dives into a shell crater, presses himself flat against the lip, then pokes his head over the top and fires his BAR at the enemy. Holmlund then sprints forward to a row of small elm trees, where he once again takes cover and seeks out a target. The ground is cool and damp, moisture seeping through his uniform. He fires and moves forward, always forward, never taking his focus off the flat roof of Driant. Despite the cool October temperature, Holmlund is now drenched in sweat. His face and hands are flecked with mud. He hurls himself into another shell crater and hugs the earth. This close to the ground, he is eye level with the fungus and bright green mold sprouting up through the fallen leaves. Bullets whiz low over his head. He reloads and listens, waiting for the chance to fire.

The sounds of the battlefield are familiar: the chatter of machine guns, the screams of the mortally wounded, the concussive thud of hand grenades, orders barked in short, terse sentences. Screams for "Medic" fill the air.

Holmlund fires a burst from his rifle and then runs forward. He races past fallen comrades. He knows them all. They did push-ups side by side during basic training in Alabama. They sailed together for Europe in the hold of a troopship. They sat in an English pasture just hours before D-day, listening to General Patton deliver the greatest speech any of them had ever heard. And then, after D-day, Holmlund and Baker fought their way across France, rejoicing as they captured one small village after another, following Patton's order that they kill Germans in brutal and relentless fashion—lest they themselves be killed first.

Now many of Holmlund's buddies lie dead or dying. And so ends the sound of their laughter, their rage, their boasts, their tales about that special girl back home, and all that talk about what they're going to do with their lives once the war ends.

Holmlund doesn't even give them a second glance.

And he doesn't stop moving forward. To stop is to become a target. Holmlund's fighting squad dwindles from twelve men down to six. The squad leader is hit, and Holmlund takes command without thinking twice about it. Slowly, in a form of progress that is measured in feet and inches instead of yards, Baker Company moves closer and closer to the German fortress.

Two hours into the battle, PFC Robert W. Holmlund of Delavan City, Wisconsin, finds himself standing atop Fort Driant.

* * *

"The real hero," Holmlund heard George S. Patton say just four months ago, "is the man who fights even though he's scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overwhelm his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood."

As Holmlund watched, General Patton drew himself up to his full six-foot-two-inch height. His shoulders were broad and his face ruddy, with a strong chin and an aquiline nose. His uniform was a marvel, with four rows of ribbons, four shiny brass buttons, a polished helmet bearing his three general's stars, tan riding pants, and knee-high cavalry boots. Most vividly, a Colt .45-caliber pistol with an ivory grip was holstered on his hip, sending a strong signal that Patton is no bureaucrat. He's a warrior, and everybody had better know it.

Patton continued: "Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best, and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men—and they are He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and that they are not supermen."

George Patton delivered "the Speech" in the British countryside, to the men of his Third Army, on June 5, 1944. Some of the soldiers watching were combat veterans. Most, like Holmlund, were brand new to the war. They found hope in Patton's words. They found a belief in their own courage. And most of all, each man sitting in that pasture under a glorious blue English sky found strength in the knowledge that he was being commanded by the most audacious, forthright, and brilliant general on either side of the war.

Until that day, Holmlund had never seen Patton in the flesh, and had only heard stories about the legendary general—the man who'd never lost a battle, hero of North Africa and Sicily, but who was temporarily relieved of his command for slapping two privates convalescing in a military hospital whom he considered cowardly.

Neither Holmlund nor any of the thousands of other soldiers seated in this pasture had any idea that their feelings for the general would come to vacillate between love and hate. In fact, Patton's nickname is "Old Blood and Guts," with the understanding that the guts of Patton rode on the blood of his soldiers.

"You are not all going to die," Patton reassured the men whom he would soon lead into combat. His voice was high instead of gruff, which came as a surprise to Holmlund. "Only two percent of you right here today will die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men."

* * *

One half mile north of where Private Holmlund and the men of Company B are making their stand atop Fort Driant, death, as predicted, is coming to their fellow soldiers in Easy Company. The hope of Patton's speech is long forgotten.

Unlike their first attack on Driant six days ago, Company E made it through the barbwire this time. But the Germans turned that into a fatal accomplishment, for once inside Easy was pinned down with precision mortar fire. Going forward has become impossible. Even worse, enemy shells are exploding to their rear, meaning that retreating back through the wire is also out of the question. Easy Company tries to solve the problem by calling in an artillery strike on their position, but this "Danger Close" barrage does nothing to stop the dug-in German gunners. Instead, friendly fire kills one of their own in a most gruesome fashion: the soldier's head is sliced cleanly from his body by a piece of flying explosive.

Easy Company digs in. They have no choice. Two-foot-long portable shovels scrape troughs in the earth as German machine gunners continue to rake Easy's position. It is every man for himself.

The terror continues. The Germans of Kampfgruppe Petersen take aim with 8 cm Granatwerfer 34 mortar fire and MG-42 machine guns. The Americans are defenseless. Killing them is as easy as finding the target and patiently squeezing the trigger. The Germans are in no hurry. The Americans are going nowhere. One after another, the young men who comprise Easy Company are cut down in the prime of their life. The company medics race from foxhole to foxhole to tend the wounded. But soon, one after another, they die, too.

Hours pass. Rain drizzles down. The nightmare chatter of the Maschinengewehr accompanies the sounds of Company E digging their trenches deeper and deeper. Each man squats as low as possible, careful not to lift his head above ground level. Doing so would be an act of suicide. Easy's foxholes become filled with water, mud, blood, and each man's personal filth. Trench foot, from prolonged exposure to cold and wet, has become so common since the autumn rains arrived that it makes standing in yet another puddle a time of agony. But the men are beyond caring about the stench and squalor of their fighting holes.

All they want to do is stay alive.

* * *

"Americans despise cowards," Patton continued all those months ago, putting his own spin on U.S. history. "Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

"All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call 'chickenshit drilling.' That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don't give a f-ck for a man who's not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn't be here. You are ready for what's to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you're not alert, sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with a sock full of shit!"

A handful of the senior officers listening to the speech disapproved of Patton's coarse language. Patton could not care less. He believes that profanity is the language of the soldier, and that to speak to soldiers one must use words that will have the most impact.

Few can deny that George Patton is entitled to this belief, nor that he is the consummate soldier. He is descended from a Civil War Confederate colonel, and has himself been in the military since graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1909. Soon after, he fought in Mexico against Pancho Villa. He then fought in the First World War at Saint-Mihiel, the legendary battlefield west of Metz where he walks now. Patton was the very first officer ever assigned to the U.S. Army tank corps, and is renowned for his tactical brilliance on the battlefield. He lives by the words of the great French general Napoléon, "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace"—"Audacity, audacity, always audacity"—a motto that works well on the field of battle, but not so well in diplomatic situations. Patton has damaged his career again and again by saying and doing the sort of impulsive things that would see a lesser man relieved of his command for good.

"An Army is a team," he continues; "it lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real fighting under fire than they know about f-cking!"

Patton was forced to pause, as he knew he would be. The waves of laughter rolling toward the stage were deafening.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard. Copyright © 2014 Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 415 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 415 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    A good read; interesting theory.

    A good read; interesting theory.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2014

    Exellent

    A really good book.

    10 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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.

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  • 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 415 Customer Reviews

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