The secret assassination of Thomas Merton and its subsequent cover-up required planning. For over fifty years, the U.S. government and the leadership of Merton's home abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani were able to perpetuate a virtually transparent lie concerning his death. They were abetted, unfortunately, by the Catholic Church, the Catholic press, and Catholic academia, along with the press and scholarly world generally. Thomas Merton's Betrayers: The Case against Abbot James Fox and Author John Howard Griffin focuses upon that long-successful lie about the cause of Merton's death in Thailand in 1968, that is, that he was electrocuted by a faulty fan. How did it become so widely accepted? It was not the official conclusion reached by the investigating authorities, the Thai police, who concluded that Merton had died of "heart failure," although they did make mention of a fan that they said had a faulty wire installed and could have killed him had he not been dead already when he encountered it. The initial report from The New York Times, using Merton's home Gethsemani Abbey as its source, based upon a cable they had received from the American Embassy in Thailand, repeated the official "heart failure" conclusion, while saying that Merton's body was "badly burned by a shock he had apparently received from a standing electrical fan that toppled over on him." Both The Times and the abbey quickly backed off this initial story, though. The story that The Times sent out through its wire service dropped mention of the "heart failure" conclusion, and the abbey told other newspapers that they had no information on how Merton died. In due time, the Gethsemani Abbey's leadership would get completely onboard with the "accidental electrocution" story, but their change in story was never based upon any new evidence that they had received. Rather, the evidence they got later from eyewitnesses and from photographic evidence of Merton's body, tended to contradict the conclusion of accidental electrocution, but they kept this evidence to themselves. Closer examination of the abbey's early zigzagging reveals the behind-the-scenes hand of retired Abbot James Fox, who the authors see as the main force at the abbey behind the accidental-electrocution conclusion. As the months went by, the abbey's position on "accidental electrocution" hardened. The man most responsible for keeping it in place was the person who had been chosen to be Merton's official biographer, John Howard Griffin, fleshing out the book's subtitle.