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

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

by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

Hardcover(First Edition)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805096682
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/23/2014
Series: Bill O'Reilly's Killing Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 98,585
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt


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.


Copyright © 2014 by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

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Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 422 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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+++++++++
Currdog More than 1 year ago
The book tells a very complicated story in a way that is easy to read and follow. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very readable and informative. I would recommend it to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy history, you will enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. Little on the mystery surrounding the details of the death. But good background of war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read; interesting theory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish the author would have included information about Patton's childhood and life prior to the military so I could have a better picture of Patton.
Wes_K More than 1 year ago
A history book without citations contradicting the actual facts of events. Sensationalism and fluff. Example: The book claims that the battle of Falaise pocket was lost by Bradley halting Patton short of encirclement when its known the reason for the failure lies in the slow advance of the Canadian armies directed by Monty. If you introduce a new theory on events you must produce proof of your research and conclusions. You just can't make crap up! Reading is torture as the book randomly jumps time frames, locations, people and events. Not a serious attempt at anything but making money for the author(s).
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Let me state from the outset this reviewer has absolutely no interest in examining this book for political purposes!  Instead, this reviewer’s father served in the U. S. Army under General Patton and had tremendous respect for his person and leadership. Thus, this reviewer’s fascination grew to desire to know more about this man who was loved and hated by so many in military and civilian circles!  While other books have been read about Patton, this is not a comparison or contrast review; rather it’s a stand-alone objective review of a book about a truly great man whose actions changed the course of WWII in Europe. O’Reilly and Dugard pose the theory that General Patton was killed because he was too outspoken and considered dangerous to others vying for power and vying to create a European order after WWII that would favor certain countries over other countries.  There is actually very little evidence for this so-called murder other than the accounts of those present at the time and reports that mysteriously seem to have disappeared or gone missing, with very little response from those who should have known about those documents.  Whatever happened, the story of this anti-Patton plot makes for fascinating reading! Some background is given to the backgrounds of Patton, Churchill, Roosevelt, Lenin, Stalin and other world leaders who were pivotal during the coming Second World War!  The authors examine these characters with what they know will fascinate readers – just enough personal and political information to whet the appetite for more – some of it unnecessary but which builds the “story” being presented. The authors tell the story of WWII battles led by Patton and that is also mesmerizing reading because it is also an intimate look at the political and military leaders making the decisions about the war.  We read about how Patton arrived in France and moved through that country into Southern Germany.  There a huge competitive campaign emerged in which Patton desired to be the first to reach Bastogne and later Berlin, a competition with Britain’s Montgomery that grew fierce indeed!   Patton’s verbal gaffes were amusing, inflammatory, truthful, lies, and totally destructive to policy, depending on who was the target of those comments and who was fitting them into or rejecting them into American military and political goals. In many ways, this book reads like a novel. One has to remind one’s self that this is the account of a real General whose life was almost larger than life for those who served under him or with him and whom one could accurately call a “shaper of history.”  Some have decried this account for leaving out certain facts about Patton’s attitudes toward Jews and political predictions or attitudes.  The reader must judge those accusers after examining what they know and don’t know about Patton and differing written accounts – fiction or non-fiction.  The best?  The worst?  Somewhere in between?  That’s for others to argue. This reviewer highly recommends Killing Patton as a great read about the man, the war, the assassination theory and one account of a pivotal period in world history!  
Appleseed73 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the facts of the events that were brought out. I had misconceived on some of them, and also the fact that Gen. Patton was so hounded by assassins. It never dawned on me that it could have been a premeditated event! It book needs reading, as the real info is presented, and a new light is opened on the tragic event. The fact that it was soo covered up and dismissed, and vital documents destroyed is very concerning. Jon C Illinois
D_G_K More than 1 year ago
This is the third "Killing" book I've read by Bill and Martin. Great read, fast paced and entertaining. Wish all my history text books were as entertaining reads as this one.
greg5 More than 1 year ago
An excellent review of the last year of WWII in Europe, the real Churchill/Roosevelt/Stalin relationship, and the background context surrounding General George S Patton's death.
Cowardly_Lion More than 1 year ago
Bill O'Reilly retells the last years of World War Two with clear points and interesting facts. Patton, of course, is the center of the book, but he, also, took us into the mind of Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and others. Hitler's final year and those with him. The political choices that would shape our world, even today, are brought out for tha reader to understand. I thought I knew the history well, but this book gave me more. Give yourself a treat! Read, "Killing Patton", it is so much more than I expected! Enjoy!!q
SharynR More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all of O'Reilly's "Killing" books. This latest one on Patton is my favorite so far. I learned so much more history than I had known before. Everyone should read O'Reilly's Killing books to pick up historical facts.
JamesKS More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent bio of Gen. Patton's exploits during WWII. Filled with material that most people have never heard of. I got the opinion from the book that he was assassinated, something the government has tried to cover up since the end of WWII. Good read. Really got me to thinking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No doubt that Patton had an enormous ego, but he could back up that ego with results. He seems to be one of the few people that knew what the Russians were up to and that they could not be trusted. Was the U.S. willing to take on the Red Army and suffer massive casualties necessary to defeat them? Would the U.S. been willing to use the atomic bomb in Europe? Because of spies in the development of the A Bomb, Stalin was aware that the A Bomb existed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical read of the books by Bill O'Reilly in the "Killing" series. Gleaned interesting facts about General Patton and even more so about the politics of war. I enjoy these books as they are an easy read and leave you wondering if there is more to the story than we were lead to believe.
TheBell More than 1 year ago
Even if you are not big into History this is a good book to read as a reminder of impacts of WWII on our current times. Also, makes one wondered why The Greatest Generation was called the greatest!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The one star reviews by people who have not read this book are evidence of what the liberals epitomize, intolerance and bullying. Like every other socialist group we've seen before, their first goal is to eliminate any other voices thus eliminating democracy.
gullagej More than 1 year ago
Excellent fact filled history book. A lot of the facts were buried in footnotes. With a large quantity of footnotes it was tough to read with an E-reader. The footnote highlight took you to the beginning of the footnotes pages in the back of the book but not to the location of the actual footnote you wanted to read. It took too much time to find the footnote you wanted and then go back to the book section you were reading. It hurt the continuity of reading the book. There was a note stating the difficulty on using the footnotes on an E-reader but it was buried in the back of the book. Had it been in the ads about the book, I would have bought the paper copy.
dixiegirl65 More than 1 year ago
Bought this audio for a gift for my husband he enjoys history I just started to buy audio for him we have been lucky but this one he was very disappointed whoever reading the book read it too fast I should of bought the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Succint,Captive, Informative and Well Written. Regretably, it affirms our belief that the US Government in Not Truthworhy about Facts as they are - They do not believe as citizens we are capble of correctly handling the TRUTH! This test makes the point vividly! Thanks Bill Tom Dawson
bull52dawg More than 1 year ago
O'Reilly continues the tradition- The Trilogy got better & better and now PATTON- Meticulously researched ,expertly crafted- Patton is a damned good read- and I was alive during the actual events and followed them closely-A great story , told greatly