|Lt. Gen. George S. Patton talking it over |
with Lt. Col. Lyle Bernard, CO, 30th Inf. Regiment.
Near Brolo, Italy 1943
Let's Talk About My 2008 Book Target: Patton
By Robert K. Wilcox
Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly has yet another best-seller in Killing Patton, his new book titled to herald the suspicious death of General George S. Patton.
Readers of my 2008 book Target: Patton are emailing me, "Did he contact you? It looks like he’s using your information." My reply, "Yes, it does. At least about Patton’s suspicious death."
I’ve now read Killing Patton. Placed piecemeal in the book, the parts about Patton’s possible murder are almost exactly what is in Target:Patton, minus the details. The 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 (on page 335): “For specifics about the conspiracy theories surrounding Patton’s death, the writing of Robert K. Wilcox (Target:Patton) was very helpful.”
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 like FDR, Churchill, Montgomery, Stalin and Hitler and the horror of the taking of Berlin, not Patton’s suspicious death. General George S. Patton, one of those big personalities, is certainly front-and-center. 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” that killed him.
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 murder Patton.
Now 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 Washington, D.C. weekly far-right newspaper, 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.
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 easily 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 including, for instance, what appears to be an attempt on Patton’s life while he was flying in peaceful 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 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.
O’Reilly and Dugard do a nice job of painting that little-known, little-taught history. Patton stands out as a great 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. In my opinion, the suspicious death of Patton is best described in Target: Patton. Hopefully, the publicity that only having a television show like O’Reilly can provide will keep Killing Patton at number one on the best-seller lists and force the powers that be to solve the Patton mystery. What really happened was covered up.
Robert K. Wilcox
Robert K. Wilcox is a bestselling author, journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He specializes in mysteries and military history. He began as a reporter and then religion editor of the Miami News, winning the Supple Memorial Award as the best religion writer in the nation. He went on to write for the Miami Herald, New York Times and other major newspapers and magazines before becoming a television writer and story editor. He has written over thirty produced teleplays plus eleven books. When not writing books or screenplays he specializes in political articles. Recent articles have appeared in the New York Post, American Thinker, Breitbart and other national publications. He lives in Los Angeles. His website is: www.robertkwilcox.com