Book Review ‘Killing Patton’

By: 
Ben Miles

Somewhere in the literary landscape that stands between historical fiction and nonfiction there exists the tabloid-like exploitation of celebrated or despised historical figures, and that’s where Bill O’Reilly and collaborator Martin Dugard seem to be at sea in their 2014 publication of “Killing Patton — The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General.”

(Published in 2014, this is the fourth out of eleven books in the O’Reilly/Durgard “Killing” series, which includes the likes of “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Jesus,” “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Reagan.”)

We get much gossip (John Kennedy once suggested that all history was gossip) and conjecture from “Killing Patton” but not much in the way of confirmation or factual validation of what was said or done in the various scenarios of this book.

With as much focus on the lurid aspects and actions of the various personalities that comprise this tale of World War II as on General Patton himself, the authors tend to sensationalize the most graphic aspects of the war — including a multitude of rapes, murders of children, the filth, the suffering and the sheer inhumanity of battle, from the mutilation of bodies to the horror and destructive power of a modern mechanized military.

There are also unsavory disclosures regarding the love lives of Adolph Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt, among other WWII notables. For example, the book states that Eleanor Roosevelt found lovemaking with Franklin an ordeal, despite the fact that their marriage yielded six children.

The authors also seem pleased to report that Hitler suffered from chronic, uncontrollable flatulence (a medical condition known as meteorism), which made it a challenge to remain physically close to the Fuhrer, especially during his deteriorating physical condition in his hideaway bunker, known as the Fuhrerbunker.

Regarding the Fuhrerbunker, let us add that this is the underground structure where Hitler concealed himself and his mistress, Eva Braun. It is also the less than romantic place in which Braun and Hitler married, just days prior to their double suicide.

Blondi, Hitler’s beloved German Shepard, was first made to meet death through the forced consumption of a liquid form of cyanide.

Next Eva Braun swallowed a cyanide pill, but despite their doctors advice on self killing, Braun refused to shoot herself in the head immediately subsequent to downing the cyanide capsule, according to the authors she is quoted saying “I want to be a beautiful corpse.”

A part of the alleged conspiracy theory to kill Patton, was speculation that (knowing he was America’s oldest general) WWII would be his last opportunity to command troops, he might consider running for political office. After all his father, also named George Patton was Los Angeles County District Attorney and the first mayor of San Marino, Calif.

For cheap reading thrills and page-turning lingering visceral images of maybe-maybe-not history, “Killing Patton” is a wild (not always credible) 352-page ride.

What: “Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General”

Who: Written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Where: Libraries and Bookstores ISBN 978-0-8050-9668-2 (hardcover); ISBN 978-0-8050-9669-9 (electronic book)

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