I’m so excited about this new book because it was reviewed by a very special guest–Randall Radic author of A Priest in Hell: Gangs, Murderers and Snitching in a California Jail.
Target: Patton — The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton
By Robert K. Wilcox
Reviewed by Randall Radic
Certain people – upon hearing some incriminating but not very conclusive bit of gossip – shake their heads sadly and remark, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” As far as they are concerned, the world operates on a simple principle: cause and effect. The effect known as smoke is caused by only one thing – fire. Robert K. Wilcox has written a book about one specific historical event around which there still remains a cloud of smoke – the death of General George S. Patton. Was Patton’s death an accident? Or was it something much more sinister – the result of a conspiracy?
Was General George S. Patton murdered?
Target: Patton examines the question from every angle. A bizarre car wreck took place in 1945. The car in which Patton rode collided with a U.S. Army truck, leaving Patton partially paralyzed from the neck down. Transferred to a German hospital, Patton received excellent medical care and, after a few days, seemed to be making a miraculous recovery. Then, unexpectedly, a sudden series of embolisms occurred, and Patton died. No autopsy was performed.
The circumstances of the car crash and Patton’s death are suspicious. First, of three people in Patton’s vehicle, only Patton received serious injury. Second, the other vehicle involved in the crash had no business being where it was, and seemed to abet the collision. Third, official investigative reports concerning the car crash vanished. Each of these three mysteries demands examination and explanation. Adding to the confusion is the fact that long after Patton’s death, two witnesses walked out of the smoke of history and pointed their fingers backward in time to the fire of a conspiracy. Witness number one was Douglas deWitt Bazata, a former OSS agent, who admitted that he participated in a plot to murder General George Patton. Witness number two was Stephen J. Skubik, a CIC agent, who stated bluntly that the Soviets wanted Patton dead. Skubik actually wrote a book about the Soviet plot. Of the two, Skubik seems to be the most credible. Bazata’s story might be a little too fantastic. On the other hand, there is no reason for Bazata to fabricate such a story especially sixty years after it took place. Target: Patton probes the lives and testimony of Bazata and Skubik and concludes that both men are either big fat liars, or something is going on. While looking for confirmation, Wilcox even implicates General William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan in Patton’s death. And based on the evidence set forth in the book, “Wild Bill’s” participation in lethal skullduggery seems to be highly possible, even probable.
As the central chapters of Target: Patton unfold, other big shots emerge from the haze surrounding Patton’s death, such luminaries as the President of the United States, FDR; and Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall. These three men had cogent reasons for wanting Patton to go away. The primary reason was Patton’s anti-Soviet stance, which Patton was not shy about voicing. And there were other reasons. Politically and militarily, Patton embarrassed and threatened the powers-that-be. Patton knew too much about the way the war had been conducted, and the mistakes that were made – mistakes that resulted in the deaths of thousands of U.S. soldiers. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Patton had another irritating trait. Patton was morally courageous, which meant he didn’t know how to go-along to get-along. Which meant Patton could destroy the careers and political ambitions of a number of powerful men.
But there was one other reason: at the end of WWII Patton’s Third Army captured the Nazi’s hidden vaults – billions of dollars worth of priceless art and gold bullion. A lot of which went missing and has never been recovered. Patton didn’t steal it. So who did?
As Wilcox unties this Gordian knot of possible motivations for the elimination of Patton, he exposes personalities, plots, sub-plots and intrigue. Target: Patton reads like a modern-day thriller, not like a boring academic treatise that gets bogged down in the muck of history. There’s only one misstep, which occurs in chapter two, where too much detailed information about the car crash is mixed up with too much speculation. The result is a mish-mash that leaves the reader in a fog. Almost immediately, though, Wilcox re-balances his story and the reader feels comfortable. In the end, Wilcox does not provide incontrovertible evidence that Patton was murdered. All the proof is circumstantial. That being said, it is important to ask one question: under what circumstances was the proof gathered? The answer provides the locus point where the evidence intersects – the death of General George S. Patton.
Perhaps it’s time to exhume the body of General Patton, so that the matter can be put to rest.
About Randall Radic
Randall Radic, a former Old Catholic priest and a convicted felon, lives in Northern California where he reads, writes and smokes cigars. He is the author of A Priest in Hell: Gangs, Murderers and Snitching in a California Jail, and the forthcoming Gone To Hell: True Crimes of America’s Clergy.