Recently I wrote about how much I enjoyed The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning more about World War II, focusing on the Normandy Invasion up to the Battle of the Bulge.
Following that book, I picked up a copy of Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly, which was also spectacular in a similar, but different way. Killing Patton explores the final months of World War II and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of one of America’s greatest Generals, George S. Patton, Jr.
During the course of World War II, General Patton made a plethora of enemies on both sides of the lines. The Germans were absolutely terrified of his tactical brilliance and knew that his was likely the one army they couldn’t defeat. Hitler actively sought ways to eliminate Patton from command. On the Allied side, he pissed off all of the High Command, most of the other General Staff, Senators, the President, and just about everyone he interacted with. If he didn’t have the rousing success in battle that his army did, it’s highly likely that he would have been relieved of duty for any one of his numerous PR blunders, such as slapping a soldier who was in the medical tent for “battle fatigue.”
Patton’s death is highly suspicious and the details are extremely shady. I won’t share them in this post, it would ruin much of the story, but the author, Bill O’Reilly, sets up numerous questions that leave the reader wondering if there wasn’t a huge conspiracy at play. I hesitate to speculate that the United States Government or the US Army had General Patton assassinated, but the evidence laid out in the book certainly makes one wonder.
The overall story is very lively and keeps the reader engrossed. I barely put the book down. In fact, I read the entire thing over the course of two flights – about 5 hours total.
Reading Killing Patton on the heels of The Steel Wave wasn’t a bad idea at all. The time-frame of The Steel Wave overlaps significantly with many of the events in Killing Patton, but they are told in their own way that keeps the stories interesting. In fact, there are several situations that are duplicated almost identically in the two books, but come from totally different perspectives that enhance the situations. I also thought that having read The Steel Wave gave me a much deeper insight into the overarching situation during the beginning portions of Killing Patton. I felt that The Steel Wave gave me some additional insights into the motivations of Patton’s rivals. Obviously once Killing Patton moved past the Battle of the Bulge, the wider scope was gone. Even so, many of the characters involved were the same and their motivations and personalities didn’t change.
If you enjoy reading about World War II and want to learn a bit more about General Patton, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Killing Patton. Bill O’Reilly tells an incredible story that might just be one of World War II’s best kept mysteries.
My next book continues the World War II trend, it’s Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge by Anthony Beevor. Why another World War II book? Well, my grandfather was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and became a POW. I’m extremely curious to learn about the situation he was in and what was happening at that time in the war. Perhaps I’ll switch to a good mystery novel or something after finishing up Ardennes 1944, but I won’t know until after I finish it.