SINCERE THANKS O'REILLY BUT I WISH YOU'D CREDITED ME IN THE TEXT
By Robert K. Wilcox
24 Oct 14 - FOX’s Bill O’Reilly has another best-seller in Killing Patton, his new book titled to herald the suspicious death of Gen. George S. Patton. Readers of my 2008 book on the same subject, Target:Patton, are emailing me, “Did he contact you?” It looks like he’s using your information.
Yes, it does – at least about Patton’s suspicious death. I’ve now read Killing Patton. The parts about Patton’s possible murder, placed piecemeal in the book, are almost exactly what is in Target:Patton, minus details. Its main evidence – the confession of OSS assassin Douglas Bazata - is exclusive to my book. Bazata, who died in 1998, confessed only to me – not to O’Reilly, or even the Spotlight newspaper, as Killing Patton alleges.
So no, I respond to the question, neither O’Reilly nor his co-author, Martin Dugard, contacted me. I didn’t know about Killing Patton until O’Reilly announced it on his television show shortly before publication. He gives me credit in the rear sources (page 335):“For specifics about the conspiracy theories surrounding Patton’s death, the writing of Robert K. Wilcox (Target:Patton) was very helpful.”
I thank him for that. I worked long and hard on Target:Patton. It wasn’t easy. I would have preferred he credit me in the text and list me in the index, both more visible to readers. This isn’t sour grapes. Target Patton is benefiting. Sales have increased. The important mystery of Patton’s death is gaining credence. Still, the record should be set straight. The main points about Patton’s probable murder in Killing Patton are all in Target:Patton, published six years earlier. Killing Patton only repeats them – and not totally accurately.
Let me stress I like Killing Patton. It's a good book, well-written with needed, little-known history. But, in my opinion, it’s mostly about the end of World War II, the large personalities who ran the war – FDR, Churchill, Montgomery, Stalin and Hitler – and the horror that was the taking of Berlin – not Patton’s suspicious death. Patton, one of those big personalities, is certainly in it. But there’s nothing about his suspicious death that isn't in Target:Patton. In fact, there is less.
Let me back that up.
The main evidence for Patton’s probable murder in Killing Patton – all in Target:Patton – basically amounts to three aspects:
- The confession of Douglas Bazata, the OSS agent involved in causing Patton’s “accident”
- The witness of Stephen J. Skubik, an American intelligence officer who claimed to discover the plot to kill Patton and tried to stop it.
- A meeting between Bazata and “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the OSS, whom Bazata claims asked him to kill Patton.
Lets take each as listed:
The confession of Douglas Bazata about causing Patton’s “accident” is exclusive to Target:Patton. Publicly, Bazata only confessed to me. Killing Patton says he confessed to The Spotlight, a D.C. weekly, in 1979. Close, but that's not correct. He told The Spotlight he had been asked to kill Patton but he had not done so. The matter died with that – at least publicly – until Target:Patton. Twenty years after the two Spotlight articles, I interviewed Bazata at his home for over a week. He was sick and feeling remorseful. That is when he confessed. He died shortly afterward. All of this is thoroughly discussed in Target:Patton. I’m sure O’Reilly, having read my book, knew this. I don’t know why he didn’t just quote me from Target:Patton. I think the point would have been stronger.
Stephen J. Skubik is also exclusive to Target:Patton – at least in making what Skubik knew public. Until Target:Patton, hardly anyone beyond Skubik’s family knew of his witness. Skubik had written it in a privately published work titled The Murder of General Patton. It remained publicly unknown for decades until, in my research, I encountered it. It turned out to be very important. Skubik, like Bazata, checked out very credible. He died in 1996. I worked with his family to be as accurate as I could in synthesizing his very densely-written witness. Killing Patton contains, in several boiled down pages, the jist of what is only in Skubik’s private book and Target:Patton. There was much research and verification put into that. Again, no sourcing in O'Reilly's text.
The meeting between Donovan and Bazata, the other important evidence of Patton’s possible murder in Killing Patton, is also in Target:Patton. O’Reilly credits it to a Bazata letter he says they found. Bazata did write letters. But that specific meeting, like others between Donovan and Bazata, is detailed in Target:Patton. Since my book is heavily sourced, back searching my research could have yielded the letter. I don’t know if that was what happened but it would have been the easiest thing to do. And O’Reilly does credit me on the “conspiracy.”
There are other duplications, for instance, what appears to be an attempt on Patton’s life while he was flying in European airspace. A small plane he was in was attacked by a Spitfire believed to have been Polish under Soviet control. The retelling of the incident is almost identical in Killing Patton as it is in Target:Patton. My source was mainly Patton’s diary, War As I Knew It, and a Polish military pilot who did research for me. Killing Patton gives no source. There are general aspects of Patton’s career in both our books to show why he might have been targeted. That story is generally known. He bucked his superiors, wanted to fight the Soviets, whom FDR naively thought would be peacemakers. With the acquiescence of Churchill, FDR gave Eastern Europe to Stalin and thus precipitated the Cold War and the slavery and death of millions.
O’Reilly and Dugard do a nice job of painting that little-known, little-taught history. Patton stands out as a great, prescient patriot in their work. Again, absent the sourcing I wish they had put in the text, it’s a highly readable and interesting book. I recommend it. For the suspicious death of Patton, my opinion is it’s best described as a primer for Target:Patton. Hopefully, the publicity that only having a television show like O’Reilly can provide will keep Killing Patton at number 1 and force the powers that can to solve the Patton mystery. What really happened was covered up.