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War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier [Kindle Edition]

Smedley D. Butler , Adam Parfrey
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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Book Description

General Smedley Butler’s frank book shows how American war efforts were animated by big-business interests. This extraordinary argument against war by an unexpected proponent is relevant now more than ever.

Originally printed in 1935, War Is a Racket is General Smedley Butler’s frank speech describing his role as a soldier as nothing more than serving as a puppet for big-business interests. In addition to photos from the notorious 1932 anti-war book The Horror of It by Frederick A. Barber, this book includes two never-before-published anti-interventionist essays by General Butler. The introduction discusses why General Butler went against the corporate war machine and how he exposed a fascist coup d’etat plot against President Franklin Roosevelt. Widely appreciated and referenced by left- and right-wingers alike, this is an extraordinary argument against war - more relevant now than ever.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940), nicknamed "The Fighting Quaker" and "Old Gimlet Eye," was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. By the end of his career he had received 16 medals, five of which were for heroism. He is one of 19 people to be twice awarded the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

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283 of 293 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decorated Marine General Cannot Be Ignored August 17, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
EDITED from 17 Aug 03 to add book links.

This book is a real gem, a classic, that should be in any library desiring to focus on national security. It is a very readable collection of short essays, ending with a concise collection of photographs that show the horror of war--on one page in particular, a pile of artillery shells labeled "Cause" and below is a photo of a massive pile of bodies, labeled "Effect."

Of particular interest to anyone concerned about the current national security situation, both its expensive mis-adventures abroad and its intrusive violation of many Constitutional rights at home, is the author's history, not only as a the most decorated Marine at the time, with campaign experience all over the world, but as a spokesperson, in retirement, for placing constitutional American principles over imperialist American practice.

The following quotations from the book are intended to summarize it:

"I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil intersts in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested." [p. 10]

"War is a racket. ...It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives." [p. 23]

"The general public shoulders the bill [for war]. This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies.
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180 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the mouth of a General... September 3, 2003
Dear readers, I first heard of Major General Smedley Butler when I joined the Marines twelve years ago. Hearing of his exploits while in Boot Camp, us recruits all wished we had as much guts as this Demi-God.

Imagine my suprise now, after having learned that our brave and tough idol had confessed to being the best "enforcer" for big business there ever was! He then became a whistle blower of the highest order. Brave and honest men and women who attain some kind of fame on the world stage do not get to live too long in this world. Their outspokeness is extinguished as soon as people start listening. In General Butler's case there was a glitch in the system. He rose to the heights in rank because of his courage, heart, and tenacity during times of WAR. They had no choice but to elevate him. He earned his unobstructed view of how the world works with blood, sweat, and tears. When he realized that he was just being used... All hell broke loose. His passionate essay in this book should be read by everyone living in this great country. He tells it the way it was and the way it still is.

It's going to be a while before someone else from so high-up steps "out of line" and talks. Can you imagine this happening nowadays? Not gonna happen. It seems that Generals are now chosen for political reasons.

So read this book about the brave General who showed even more courage as a Civilian.
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237 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War: Who Profits from it and who Pays for it March 4, 2004
By Maginot
"War is a Racket" is marine general, Smedley Butler's classic treatise on why wars are conducted, who profits from them, and who pays the price. Few people are as qualified as General Butler to advance the argument encapsulated in his book's sensational title. When "War is a Racket" was first published in 1935, Butler was the most decorated American soldier of his time. He had lead several successful military operations in the Caribbean and in Central America, as well as in Europe during the First World War. Despite his success and his heroic status, however, Butler came away from these experiences with a deeply troubled view of both the purpose and the results of warfare.
Butler's central thesis is that regardless of the popular rhetoric that often accompanies warfare, it is waged almost exclusively for profit. He advances this argument in three decisive examples.
In an early version of "follow the money", Butler provides pre- and post-World War I data on some of America's leading corporations to demonstrate the surge in profits that they experienced from the war, often totaling several hundred percent. While some companies, such as Dupont, arguably produced goods that contributed directly to America's military victory in 1918, others such as saddle manufacturers did not. Even when these companies failed to contribute directly to the war effort, they still managed to lobby the government to retrain or expand their contracts. Its as though powerful, well connected oil services company today were to contract with the government to supply oil to the military during a foreign campaign and then deliberately overcharge it.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As applicable today as when it was first written September 19, 2004
Brigadier General Smedley Darlington Butler is not a very familiar name when it comes to military lore in America. Butler was a two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. As a solider he oversaw American campaigns in China, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti. After his retirement from military service he brought down a planned corporate coup that threatened to seize control of the White House. He supported World War I Bonus Marchers who rallied in DC looking for their promised "War Bonus." He treated all his men fairly and honestly and was respected for it. Most importantly, he realized that in his role as a military leader he was a "high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short...a racketeer for Capitalism." This book was his effort to expose everything that he knew about the inner workings of the American War Machine.

The first sentences of Butler's book, written in 1935 and mainly referring to World War I remain true today, "War is a racket. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious." Butler then rips into war profiteers who never shouldered a rifle yet made millions in blood money. Throughout his writing Butler posits that the single focus of war is to make money for the few by trading in the blood of the many. To know that in 2004 these words accurately and eerily describe the majority of the men and women now in control of the United States of America is shameful and disgraceful.

In Chapter Two "Who Makes the Profits" Butler analyzes who made money during the Wars he was involved with. He analyzes how they made their money and how much they made.
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