Marist Magazine: Fall 2014 - page 20

J
ustwhen it seemed that Bill O’Reilly
couldn’t become any more famous, the
1971 Marist graduate started writing best-
selling history books. Killing Lincoln, Killing
Kennedy, and Killing Jesus, like eight of his
previous books, all went to Number One on
the New York Times best-seller list. A new
release, Killing Patton, continues his focus on
historic figures, and according to an inter-
view with O’Reilly, there are more to come.
Marist
magazine:
You majored in history
at Marist, taught history to high school kids,
and have been a student of history through-
out your life. What sparked and continues to
hold your interest in history?
Bill O’Reilly:
I like the action that history
brings, to the reader or to the student who’s
studying it. It’s a fascinating world. I’ve been
to 80 countries. Most of them I’ve visited
because of things that I had read about
them. I wanted to see what really happened
in Egypt. I wanted to see what really hap-
pened in Germany. So I went to those places.
I’m just a curious guy. I have no ability in
science or math (laughs). It was either history
or English, and I kind of dove into those two
disciplines.
MM:
The O’Reilly Factor has been the most
watched cable news show for the past 14
years. And all the while, you’ve been writing
one best seller after another. With respect
to your books, you took a “bold, fresh” turn
away from current issues, popular culture,
and a memoir to write about history. Why
does history matter?
BO’R:
Well we had eight, I think, Number
One best sellers on contemporary matters,
and then I just pretty much had done every-
thing I could think of in that area (laughs).
And then I said, “What else am I good at,
what else do I like?” You always should do
what you like, what your passion is, and that
was history. So we decided to write history
books that people could have fun reading.
And that’s the departure. It’s not this big,
thick “this happened then, this happened
then.” You can have fun reading Killing
Jesus, Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, and
the upcoming Killing Patton because we put
you right there, next to the people who are
doing what they’re doing. My communication
skills gave me the ability to do that. I hired
a great researcher. We put the two together
and that’s why they’re successful.
MM:
So that’s why you think your history
books are so popular—so different from
other history narratives. Your history books
have been a phenomenon, selling millions of
copies. The last week of 2012, you held the
Number One and Two spots on the best-
seller hardcover, nonfiction list—a rare feat.
Even rarer, they were both history books
(Lincoln and Kennedy).
BO’R:
Never been done before: we had a One
and Two on the New York Times nonfiction
best-seller list. And the reason is, you don’t
have to like history to like my books. All you
have to do is like thrillers, because we write
them in a thrilling way. Because Lincoln
B y S h a i l e e n K o p e c
Bill O’Reilly ’71 Takes 
Bill O’Reilly ’71
Q&A
For a video of the
Q&A with Bill O’Reilly,
go to marist.edu
18
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