Category Archives: Books

For all posts regarding books I’ve read.

Book Review: Killing Patton

Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is the story of major battles and events in the final years of World War II with an emphasis on the life of General George Patton. Like other books in the Killing Series, this manuscript opens readers’ minds to the possibilities for different historic outcomes if certain individuals had acted otherwise. Sadly, this book strongly hints at the likely non-accidental death of General Patton by betraying figures.

Authors of history easily can insert their biases in recounting of events. I appreciate that Killing Patton, like other books in the Killing Series, offers specific details to substantiate perspectives shared. Readers will find the insights credible and worthy for contemplation.

I came away from this book convinced that no matter how difficult a person General Patton may have been to associate with, he was the best military leader. His leadership dependably delivered on the battlefield. Yet, if he was given the support (e.g., supplies and troops) he needed and requested, he would’ve delivered even more than his counterparts who repeatedly floundered. Additionally, if Patton were given the backing, he could’ve beat the Russians to Berlin potentially impacting the future of Europe. Unfortunately, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) appears to have valued his comrade with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin more than Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This book explains that FDR apparently agreed to give parts of Germany and Eastern Europe to Stalin rather than compete to restrain Russian influence in the region. Meanwhile, General Patton wisely identified the Russians for the threat they were and wanted turn America’s attention that direction. Instead, FDR working through his generals and Wild Bill Donovan in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) marginalized General Patton until his unexpected death in Germany.

In a sense, FDR helped create the cold war rather than recognizing the threat the Russians were to the future of the world. Granted, at some point the Russian threat needed to be dealt with. Regrettably, containment came after freely permitting the Russians to take over, control, abuse, rape, and murder many defenseless eastern Europeans and Germans.

It is interesting to read Killing Patton after reading Killing the Rising Sun. Both General Douglas MacArthur and General Patton recognized the threat from the Soviet Union in the post-World War II era. General Patton was sidelined and eventually probably killed. General MacArthur was given some power to confront the communist threat in Korea. He successfully landed troops at Inchon and reclaimed Seoul. Then, he was fired by President Harry S. Truman and the Joint Chief of Staff after he authorized pursuing combat into China against Truman’s orders. Rather than taking the battle to the communist super-powers, both of Americas mighty-generals’ careers were ended.

Understandably, America was tired of war, but the Korean conflict demonstrates that post-World War II military action was needed to contain communism (note that the later Vietnam conflict indicates containment was never fully realized). It appears that FDR and Truman kicked the problem down road as opposed to dealing with communism when they had the better opportunity. And, both generals who could’ve led the fight were forced out of power.

I come away from Killing Patton questioning the character and leadership of many noted Allied military leaders – General Dwight Eisenhower, General Omar Bradley, and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. General Eisenhower seemed more like a politician than a qualified battlefield tactician. Accordingly, it seems fitting he later became President of the United States. Similarly, I question the wisdom of FDR in allowing Donovan so much power to work with the Russians in intelligence activities. The partnership between the OSS and The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) near the end of World War II seems treasonous. That might explain why General Patton’s suspicious death isn’t a surprise.

Book Review: Killing the Rising Sun

Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is a great resource for anyone trying to learn more about United States history. This book focuses on America’s military role in the South Pacific including development of the atomic bombs that were later dropped on Japan helping end the war.

The rise and expansion of the Japanese empire is described including conquests into China prior to United States involvement after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The fall of the Philippines is recorded including the capture of Filipino and American soldiers (including Lieutenant General Jonathan “Skinny” Wainwright) on Bataan and Corregidor. The captured solders were later tortured and killed while on the Bataan Death March or in the miserable confines of prison camps for three and a half years.

General Douglas MacArthur fled the Philippines and pledged to return to liberate that country after the Japanese conquest. This eventually lead to military campaigns such as the assault on Peleliu, the effort to retake the Philippines, the struggle for Iwo Jima, and the battle for Okinawa. Fascinating, yet tragic stories of heroism are shared. Conversely, so are horrific descriptions of Japanese abuse and torment of apprehended soldiers, as well as the sanctioned rape (e.g., comfort women).

The story includes details of Colonel Paul Tibbets preparing for and eventually dropping August 6th, 1945 the first atomic bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima while flying the Enola Gay.  As well as specifics on August 9th, as the less famous Major Chuck Sweeney flew the Bockscar dropping the atomic bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki. After the bombings, details of the bombings after-effects are described so that the reader can appreciate the impact.

Throughout the book, O’Reilly and Dugard present conflicting alternatives for major players (e.g. President Harry Truman) in world events. For instance, a significant dilemma presented is whether dropping the atomic bombs were a better option than the alternative of a land invasion of Japan. Part of the consideration is the number of American solider lives that would be lost in a ground and air assault as compared to the large number of Japanese civilian deaths. Meanwhile, similar efforts to develop nuclear weaponry was being undertaken by the cruel German and Russian governments.

Books in this series by O’Reilly and Dugard always provide thought-provoking facts and details regarding events including insights to how history could’ve been different if certain proceedings otherwise transpired. In September 1950, as commander in charge of repelling communist advances into Korea, MacArthur successfully recaptured Seoul after leading an amphibious invasion at Incheon. When Chinese forces later joined in the fight against American troops, MacArthur authorized strikes into China. MacArthur’s actions disobeyed orders from President Truman. Yet, I wonder how the world would be changed if President Truman hadn’t relieved General MacArthur of his command in April 1951. What would have been the result if MacArthur had been allowed to take the fight to the Chinese? Intriguingly, Truman’s actions ruined his popularity and influenced him not to seek reelection in 1952, while MacArthur returned home a popular hero.

I recommend reading this book. American’s of all political persuasions and backgrounds should be able to appreciate the history O’Reilly and Dugard are trying to describe. You don’t have to be proficient in history to read this text. This book is a great introduction into World War II. I read it before Killing Patton, an earlier script in this series.

Note: I finished this book near the end of the summer in 2016. I wrote this review many months later at the end of December. Accordingly, I back-dated this post.

Book Review: Killing Lincoln

I just finished reading, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. I wasn’t disappointed. This book is a well written story describing the days ending the Civil War, those leading to President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by John Wilkes Booth, and the events thereafter. The chapters detail the…
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