By Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
#1 USA Today bestseller, 9/22/16
What it is: The sixth in the “Killing” series of nonfiction books from conservative Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and his co/ghostwriter Martin Dugard. The series focuses on historical figures who have been the subject of assassination attempts, or it did until this book, as O’Reilly and Dugard apparently loosened up their criteria to include abstract concepts after running out of interesting dead people.
I was pretty excited to get around to this because I’ve been curious about Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series for a while. It seemed odd that when O’Reilly turned to publishing, he put his name on a series of seemingly nonpartisan history lessons rather than doing what most pundits do and cranking out on-the-nose topical lectures with titles like Left Turn to Hell: Why Obama Isn’t the New Hitler–He’s Worse. So I wondered: Were these books actually infused with right-wing messaging somehow, or was O’Reilly and/or his target demographic just genuinely nerdy about history?
Turns out that Killing the Rising Sun is for the most part a straightforward account of the end of World War II’s Pacific conflict, and a pretty compelling one at that. I’m sure it’s nothing groundbreaking as far as scholarship goes, and it definitely argues in support of Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb, but it doesn’t shy away from the horror of the bomb’s effects and generally didn’t feel like it was shoving a message down my throat. I even learned some stuff. Did you know that the bombers who hit Nagasaki were originally headed for a city called Kokura, but switched to their secondary target after experiencing technical difficulties? I didn’t! That’s crazy!
But anyway, here’s the thing: O’Reilly introduces the book by reminding readers of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s infamous “God damn America” sermon, which got Barack Obama in trouble by association during the 2008 election and which cited the atomic bombing of Japan as part of Wright’s critique of the US. So while most of this book reads like a fairly disinterested history lesson, you’re made to understand from jump that its real purpose is to remind readers that Obama and his friends are all a bunch of dumb libtards. Neat trick!