Review: “Killing England” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Killing England: The Struggle for American Independence. Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard. Henry Holt Publishers. 340 pages.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this book from our university library. I’m not a fan of Bill O’Reilly, although I am familiar with the “Killing” series. Bill O’Reilly is, of course, famous for his commentary on TV’s Fox News, but has become almost as famous for this bestselling series. And I am pretty sure that the arrangement is that O’Reilly is responsible for the name and the promotion while the real writing gets done by Martin Dugard. That’s usually the way these things are done.

But I was pleasantly surprised. O’Reilly/Dugard do a great job of making the American Revolutionary War approachable, interesting and easy to understand. Each chapter provides details about otherwise well-known people (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin) that most people don’t know, and are pretty interesting. For example, we all have heard that Washington had false teeth, but instead of them being wooden, they were made from rhinoceros ivory, held in his mouth with gold wire attached to the few teeth he did have. And the reason he never smiled in his pictures was because he was not only embarrassed by his mouth full of fake teeth but because he was in such pain. Another example is that Thomas Jefferson used to rise each morning to soak his feet in cold water to greet the day, and that his wife Martha had diabetes, which led to the death of most of her children. And Benjamin Franklin used to love to sunbathe naked, refused to dress like French while in Paris but was still idolized, and was a womanizer well into his 80s.

The book is full of interesting facts about people, battles, intrigue behind the scenes and even in the court of King George III. If you watched the AMC series Turn: Washington’s Spies, many of the characters mentioned in the series are in this book as well, since they were real persons.

I heartily recommend this book. Five stars out of five.