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Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History Paperback – July 23, 1998


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Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History + War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier + The Plot to Seize the White House: The Shocking True Story of the Conspiracy to Overthrow FDR
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; Reprint edition (July 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813109574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813109572
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Butler joined the Marines in 1898 and saw action all over the world, winning two Medals of Honor, but he is remembered not so much for his military exploits as for his apostasy during his latter years. A statement he made in 1935 sums up the drastic turnabout: "I spent 33 years in the Corps, and spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business." He also said he had been a racketeer for capitalism who "helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street." Schmidt, a lecturer in history at the University of Hong Kong, traces Butler's stormy career: his various expeditionary campaigns, his central role in internal Marine Corps politics during the 1920s and his bizarre but effective war on crime and vice in Philadelphia. As pure biography, Marine Maverick is a colorful story about a swashbuckling establishment-shaker. Schmidt's book is particularly valuable, however, for the insights it provides into Yankee imperialism and its racist undertones. Photos.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A sympathetic portrait of a Victorian officer-warrior who lost his way as he advanced in rank and his America and his Marine Corps changed after World War I." -- Journal of American History



"This long-awaited biography is as crisp as a David Brinkley commentary. Fact-packed and exquisitely documented." -- Naval Institute Proceedings



"As pure biography, Maverick Marine is a colorful story about a swashbuckling establishment-shaker. Schmidt's book is particularly valuable, however, for the insights it provides into Yankee imperialism and its racist undertones." -- Publishers Weekly


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Customer Reviews

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A terrific book by a 2 time MOH winner.
Robert Whitener
Anyway, this is a good book about an American legend.
Jeremiah J. Timmins
I find this book very well written and informative.
CPD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah J. Timmins on August 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's somewhat ironic that someone as plain-spoken and hard-headed as Old Gimlet Eye would have a book written about him by an intellectual like Dr. Schmidt, but it says a lot about the relevance of Butler, his life in the Marines and in politics.

The book displays how Butler served as both a Marine in endless campaigns for the United States, and how he later came, not to renounce the military or the Marines, but the use of US Military forces overseas as, what he believed them to be, tools of Big Business, and not serving in either the interest of the United States Constitution or its citizens.

This book lead me to Butler's own small book "War is a Racket," which was highly influential in my own opinions about use of military force outside our country's borders. Butler would never consider himself an intellectual, but he had heaps of common sense - a quality which is sometimes lacking from those with sky-high IQs. Marines are sworn to the duty of protecting the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and they take this duty to heart. Once Butler realized that some of his fighting may not have served this interest, he became a very politically charged and controversial figure and speaker. How the hell could the former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps declare himself against war? Well, he didn't go against war, but advocated the prudent use of our military strength in the defense of the homeland. Sometimes he went a little far in supporting his points, but his intentions - to look out for both our country and those who serve it - are admirable traits in any career politician or general (there's little difference between the two once someone picks up that first star).
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127 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Capt Keith Kopets, USMC on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Most Marines know that Major General Smedley Darlington Butler was the only officer in the Corps to win two Medals of Honor. Most non-Marines, like Dr. Hans Schmidt, identify Butler with his 1935 diatribe of Wall Street and Big Business:
"I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.... Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three CONTINENTS" [p. 231].
Dr. Schmidt is a fan of Butler--the "patriotic warrior hero whose courage, physical command presence, and vernacular coarseness epitomized the popular ideal of a soldier's general" (p. 1). This is easily understandable; Butler's distinguished combat record and blunt, extroverted style of leadership endeared him to the mass media and earned him a legion of followers. Schmidt became a Butler disciple after writing the UNITED STATES OCCUPATION OF HAITI, 1915-1934 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1971).
MAVERICK MARINE uses sixteen chapters to interweave two subjects: (1) The life and times of Smedley Butler and (2) The Marine Corps's role as the strong arm of American foreign policy in the early twentieth century. Schmidt's coverage of the former is nonpareil; his treatment of the latter, however, does not hold up as well under scrutiny.
Butler's career in the Marine Corps began in 1898 at age sixteen. During the war with Spain, Second Lieutenant Butler deployed with the 1st Marine Battalion to the Caribbean.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By lector avidus on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Smedley Butler was a great American, a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, a General in the Marine Corps, and, in retirement, an articulate and famous pacifist, who could not be dismissed as effeminate or ignorant. His life is worth examining, particularly by anyone in the military.

Butler was also a skein of contradictions: a Marine from a Quaker family, a general who joined the Marines as a private, a critic of politics in the military whose congressman father just happened to oversee the department of the Navy, a soldier who spent most of his days maintaining order in America's colonies, official and otherwise, who then went to vehemently condemn the deployment of American troops overseas, and perhaps most importantly, a soldier who inspired fierce loyalty. This list could go on and on.

Unfortunately this biography reads like a police report and not like a measured and analytical examination of a truly fascinating American. Butler was a great man who deserves a much better biography. (Un)fortunately court historians who write popular political hagiographies seem to eschew the lives of quixotic Marines, however impressive, interesting, and instructive their lives may have been.

As there are not that many biographies of Butler extant, this one may well be worth reading for the facts, but do not expect greatness from this book.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By jerome d gorman on December 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is about an American patriot and career Marine Corps officer who had the ability to see through the motivation of many of the U.S. military adventures in which he played a leading role. It would be interesting if he were still living and able to share his insights and convictions about our current military entanglements beyond our nation's borders. His views are reminiscent of the warnings our first President, George Washington, gave in his Farewell Address.
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