War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier Info

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"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.

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Reviews for War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier:

4

Feb 18, 2008

A scathing condemnation of the corporate-military complex by a quirky retired general who was one of the biggest legends and role models in the U.S. Marine Corps; Smedley Butler, nicknamed "Old Gimlet Eye," had a tattoo of the USMC emblem that covered his chest and was the only Marine officer to win the Medal of Honor twice, America's highest decoration for both effectiveness and outrageous courage in combat (a high percentage of Medals of Honor must be awarded posthumously; you can't do A scathing condemnation of the corporate-military complex by a quirky retired general who was one of the biggest legends and role models in the U.S. Marine Corps; Smedley Butler, nicknamed "Old Gimlet Eye," had a tattoo of the USMC emblem that covered his chest and was the only Marine officer to win the Medal of Honor twice, America's highest decoration for both effectiveness and outrageous courage in combat (a high percentage of Medals of Honor must be awarded posthumously; you can't do something that will win this medal and have any realistic expectation of living through it even once.)

However, after retiring, he came to the conclusion that much of the fighting he had done had ultimately served the interests not of the American people or the people of the countries where he fought, but those of big businesses such as the United Fruit Company. He refers to it as a racket in the sense that the corporate world that pulls the strings of the U.S. government uses the American military as muscle essentially the same way as organized crime uses its low-ranking members.

Butler was not a pacifist - he advocated a true department of defense, staffed, organized, stationed, and equipped so as to protect America but not to create or maintain an empire.

He showed his integrity once again in retirement, when a group of industrialists, concerned by the Depression and outraged by FDR's New Deal programs, planned to carry out a coup, overthrow the government, and put a puppet "president" in office. They asked Butler to lead their coup and be that puppet president. Instead, he immediately turned them in, pointing out that he had sworn a lifelong oath to support and defend the Constitution. One of my heroes.

I encourage anyone contemplating military service to read this, to see another side than they've probably been shown - we do need armed forces, so the right thing to do may indeed be to enter or stay in the military. But it should be an informed decision. ...more
5

Dec 14, 2016

This falls under the category of "Must Read." Butler's argument is that the wealthy elite benefit financially from war while everyone else suffers, either through fighting in the wars or else from paying for the war that the rich get richer from. Part of what makes the book so powerful is Butler's history: he fought in WWI and was the most decorated soldier of his lifetime when he wrote this. For me, that gives him credibility that can never be matched by a politician (who probably never fought This falls under the category of "Must Read." Butler's argument is that the wealthy elite benefit financially from war while everyone else suffers, either through fighting in the wars or else from paying for the war that the rich get richer from. Part of what makes the book so powerful is Butler's history: he fought in WWI and was the most decorated soldier of his lifetime when he wrote this. For me, that gives him credibility that can never be matched by a politician (who probably never fought in a war) going on TV and giving reasons for yet another conflict. Read this each time some person on the news states the case for another war and you'll likely see how hollow their words are and how much weight Butler's words carry. ...more
5

Oct 03, 2010

War Is A Racket is an in your face exposé about the lies politicians tell American taxpayers to justify their bloodthirsty and psychopathic lust for war.

Impressive quotes:

I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism. Front cover.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National War Is A Racket is an in your face exposé about the lies politicians tell American taxpayers to justify their bloodthirsty and psychopathic lust for war.

Impressive quotes:

I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism. Front cover.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests 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

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds again gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out. P. 24

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn’t they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the masses?
What does it profit the men who are killed?
What does it profit the men who are maimed?
What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts?
What does it profit their children?
What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?
Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn’t own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became “internationally minded.” We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our Country. We forgot Washington’s warning about “entangling alliances.” We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely financial bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people—who do not profit. P. 26

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the “war to end wars.” This was the war to make the world safe for democracy.” No one told them that dollars and cents were the real reason. No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that bullets made by their own brothers here might shoot them down. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a “glorious adventure.” p. 35

smash the war racket. We must take the profit out of war. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes. P. 42

War Is A Racket is a brilliantly written expose on war and why politicians like them.

If your stomach is sensitive to horror, avoid looking at the pictures depicting the horror of war.

War Is A Racket is a must read!

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4

Mar 22, 2018

It's an extremely swift read. Strongly felt, and strongly worded, written by a simple, straightforward, outraged American. Justifiably outraged.

In a nutshell: the unholy trio of big business, lobby-driven government, and military--has only one result: vile war profiteering.

The awarding of military contracts--underpins capitalism and has us locked in a vicious cycle which still goes on today (Halliburton, KBR, etc).

Butler makes a great point: after the Civil War but before the age of 'gunboat It's an extremely swift read. Strongly felt, and strongly worded, written by a simple, straightforward, outraged American. Justifiably outraged.

In a nutshell: the unholy trio of big business, lobby-driven government, and military--has only one result: vile war profiteering.

The awarding of military contracts--underpins capitalism and has us locked in a vicious cycle which still goes on today (Halliburton, KBR, etc).

Butler makes a great point: after the Civil War but before the age of 'gunboat diplomacy', before the age of American Imperialism, (before we had jingoistic adventures in Japan, China, Tripoli, the Philippines) we had a paltry national debt of just $1m.

After the pattern of foreign wars began, our national debt has never receded. Big, powerful companies--ever since the rise of the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and DuPonts--have raped the American economy for short-term profit and left US citizens holding-the-bag. Not to mention American lives that were lost.

President Woodrow Wilson got elected on an anti-war platform. So why did we wind up fighting in WWI? Because we had lent $6m to Britain & France and they warned us that if we lost, they would not be able to pay it back.

Sigh. A lot of people today talk of their hatred of socialism, and they label socialism with every epithet and criticism they can think of. Yet there is no economic system with as much blood on its hands as capitalism. We've got no high ground to stand on. How much blood has Sweden shed in the modern era? ...more
4

Aug 06, 2012

Is War a Racket?

'For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket'. I have been told 'This was the "war to make (America) safe (from Terrorism)." No mentioned to (us), as we marched away, that (our) going and (our) dying would mean huge war profits'.

As a soldier I have to agree with almost everything that Gen. Smedley Butler, a two time Medal of Honor winner has to say in this book. He wrote this book over 70 years ago, frustrated at how the US goes to war. I have to Is War a Racket?

'For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket'. I have been told 'This was the "war to make (America) safe (from Terrorism)." No mentioned to (us), as we marched away, that (our) going and (our) dying would mean huge war profits'.

As a soldier I have to agree with almost everything that Gen. Smedley Butler, a two time Medal of Honor winner has to say in this book. He wrote this book over 70 years ago, frustrated at how the US goes to war. I have to say that not much has changed, except how the Racket is achieved.

Why is the US still currently in Afghanistan? Why am I, as a soldier on my third deployment to the Middle East? Simply put, Money. Yes, the politicians paint the picture that we are here to ensure that Al Qaeda doesn't come back to power, and so that Afghanistan can become an independent nation. No, this is not the case, we are still here because there is money to be made.

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5

Dec 11, 2008

Written in the 1930's by a highly decorated Marine Corps General this short book is an essay exposing the utter scam that every war that America has been involved in for at least the past 100 years has been. Although it exposes the horrors and damage that war causes both in Butlers essay and with the inclusion of some gruesome photos War is a Racket is not some limp wristed pacifist liberal tripe. What it is is an essay by a man who connected the dots and realized after many years that he in his Written in the 1930's by a highly decorated Marine Corps General this short book is an essay exposing the utter scam that every war that America has been involved in for at least the past 100 years has been. Although it exposes the horrors and damage that war causes both in Butlers essay and with the inclusion of some gruesome photos War is a Racket is not some limp wristed pacifist liberal tripe. What it is is an essay by a man who connected the dots and realized after many years that he in his military sevice was nothing but "a high class muscle man for big business, for wall street and the bankers". He exposes how these wars are ferminted, who is behind them and who profits from them. He also talks about his own isolationalist political ideas that I can agree with most of his points on. There is also a introduction written by Adam Parfrey that gives a good basic history of Butler and his life. Butler was a great American that should be admired and honored but sadly few people have a clue as to who he is and what he did.
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3

Sep 20, 2014

With such an eye catching title and knowledge of the author I had to check out his controversial views. He had a following, while others considered him to be a loaded firecracker.

Smedley Darlington Butler the son of a U.S. Congressman grew up in Pennsylvania with Quaker roots. He voluntarily chose a career in the Marine Corps quickly rising through the ranks making his mark in history. Major General Butler USMC the recipient of two Medals of Honor did not retire quietly. One should separate his With such an eye catching title and knowledge of the author I had to check out his controversial views. He had a following, while others considered him to be a loaded firecracker.

Smedley Darlington Butler the son of a U.S. Congressman grew up in Pennsylvania with Quaker roots. He voluntarily chose a career in the Marine Corps quickly rising through the ranks making his mark in history. Major General Butler USMC the recipient of two Medals of Honor did not retire quietly. One should separate his military service from his active retirement.

Upon retirement in the 1930’s with politics in his blood Butler crisscrossed America voicing his opinion of big business and war. His issue was not with the defense of America, but with engagements on foreign soil. His main theory was: Money (Wall Street / Big Business) + War = Racket. He mentions that the way to avoid war is to take away the profit motive. The peace movement seeking monetary funding is also labeled a racket.

In his day there were “Banana Wars” and other skirmishes that had no real connection to the defense of our nation. Therefore to some degree Butler is correct and it is healthy to ask questions, big questions however his conclusions seem too absolute. I favor free market capitalism but without checks, balances and consequences graft and corruption can take place.

The 21st Century is a global society and as nice as isolation might be, life today is not that simple on plant earth. At times there is more to worry about than a potential racket as true evil also exists. I’m thankful for America’s freedom of speech and freedom of press where Butler could openly express his views to others. Most of all I appreciate the selfless dedication of those who defend such freedom.

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3

Mar 11, 2016

I'm just not sure how to rate this book, so I put it in the middle category of three stars. It is an odd little read and while you agree with some of the author's assumptions, others are contradictory. Written by a Major General in the Marines who won two Medals of Honor in WWI, there is no doubt that he knows of what he speaks as far as war is concerned. However, the fact that large companies and individuals reaped fortunes from the war, although somewhat disturbing, is a part of free trade and I'm just not sure how to rate this book, so I put it in the middle category of three stars. It is an odd little read and while you agree with some of the author's assumptions, others are contradictory. Written by a Major General in the Marines who won two Medals of Honor in WWI, there is no doubt that he knows of what he speaks as far as war is concerned. However, the fact that large companies and individuals reaped fortunes from the war, although somewhat disturbing, is a part of free trade and has been a side effect of war that will always hold true The author doesn't really expound on how that should be avoided. Additionally the book was published in the late 1930s, so the isolationist approach that the author takes may seem a little dated.

It is worth a try if you are interested in how business and war are so tightly intertwined.
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5

Dec 11, 2016

This powerful, easily read book is as relevant today as the day it was originally published. It takes about an hour to read. Treat yourself to the insights of a man who has seen from the inside the fraud perpetrated on the American public for most of the nation's history, then get angry and do something about it. War is a horror we can do without, especially since it's driven by greed and promoted almost exclusively with lies.
3

Sep 09, 2012

I have to admit, all of the hype I'd encountered before finally getting to this book led me to believe that this would be an articulate and impassioned voice of "right" over "might" from the pen of one the USMC's mightiest warriors. However, Smedley seems to reduce the "cost" of war primarily to its economic terms and goes into the $$$ figures of how much companies make during war-time and preparation for war-time. Smedley died before WWII and all of the statistics and numbers he gives in this I have to admit, all of the hype I'd encountered before finally getting to this book led me to believe that this would be an articulate and impassioned voice of "right" over "might" from the pen of one the USMC's mightiest warriors. However, Smedley seems to reduce the "cost" of war primarily to its economic terms and goes into the $$$ figures of how much companies make during war-time and preparation for war-time. Smedley died before WWII and all of the statistics and numbers he gives in this "op/ed" piece are really chump change compared to what transpired after the military industrial complex truly exploded. Still, his sentiment is sincere and at the time it was written, there weren't too many men with his credentials able to speak out this way, calling out Wall Street and their bought-and-paid-for politicians; but the value I think of Smedley Butler lies more in what he did for his fellow military men than what he wrote: Smedley Butler and the Bonus Army. ...more
5

Mar 09, 2017

Such a simple and powerful and obvious statement.

What's interesting about Smedley is that he's not against war in a general sense. He's against the kind of war that had become common in the early 20th century (which is the model for all wars now). To put it a different way: he was not against war, but he was against imperialism.

Smedley dissects WWI in quick and simple ways that are sort of a cost benefit analysis.
Who benefits from war? Who pays the burdens of war?

Smedley answers these two Such a simple and powerful and obvious statement.

What's interesting about Smedley is that he's not against war in a general sense. He's against the kind of war that had become common in the early 20th century (which is the model for all wars now). To put it a different way: he was not against war, but he was against imperialism.

Smedley dissects WWI in quick and simple ways that are sort of a cost benefit analysis.
Who benefits from war? Who pays the burdens of war?

Smedley answers these two questions, but also tells you how much the profiteers profited and how much the soldiers paid for the privilege of losing their lives or getting brutalized, both mentally and physically, in the grind of war.

Indispensable reading, really. I'm shocked I had never heard of it till relatively recently. Or, I'm not shocked, because this is exactly the kind of book that powerful people don't want you to read. But still, it's strange to know this book has existed for 80 years and I had never heard of it.

It really is a simple book, and a clear explanation of who benefits and who loses in war.

The TL;DR version is: you lose, and soldiers lose more.
Banks and arms-dealers make big. ...more
3

Aug 13, 2016

Smedley D. Butler, (Maj.Gen. USMC Retired Deceased) was twice awarded the CMOH. His actions taken during the First World War were unquestionably brave, and this makes for a mild understatement to the truth. Ive seen this sort of thing however over the course of my own life and military experience. In reflection of the horrors of war the person of notoriety takes a different stance and has a change of heart, is this something that came with age or his Quaker background I cannot say for certain. Smedley D. Butler, (Maj.Gen. USMC – Retired – Deceased) was twice awarded the CMOH. His actions taken during the First World War were unquestionably brave, and this makes for a mild understatement to the truth. I’ve seen this sort of thing however over the course of my own life and military experience. In reflection of the horrors of war the person of notoriety takes a different stance and has a change of heart, is this something that came with age or his Quaker background I cannot say for certain. Major General Butler died less than 1 year and 6 months before the attack on the U.S. Naval docks at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Schofield Barracks, and U.S. Army-Air Forces Hickam Air Field in Hawaii on the 7th of December 1941. In this manner I believe he would have had his feelings and beliefs changed back to where they were at the time before he wrote this book through the end of his life - then again maybe not. His speeches and writings in 1939 also reflect a further solidification to the isolationist-pacifist he became at the near end of his career and life. However, there are truths to some of his emotional statements but not enough fact to ensure a complete mindset of turn-around for these statements and personally held beliefs to become warranted in action as he had called for at the time.

Following the Second World War and considering that conscription ended in 1945 it was only for a short time – in 1947 the U.S. realized that it had to implement the draft again as the Cold War was well underway. Isolationism was a product of an era that had long left the station with the attack at Pearl Harbor. The brilliant farewell speech by President Eisenhower some 20+ years after the death of General Butler was a similar reaction to age and a change of heart as to what the (then) President observed – what they both seem to have in common is the fact of the current events as they were posed did not have full consideration of what was out of both of their hands - President Eisenhower should have known better based upon his position of President and what he was receiving daily in briefs from his National Security team. Consider, General Butler’s statements both on the eve of and during the beginning of the Second World War with President Eisenhower’s farewell address on 17 January 1961 with statements of the “Military Industrial Complex.” For Butler, the Japanese were already raping China and for Eisenhower the Soviets had already launched Sputnik, all the language used by Butler on "no attack in the USA will come" and for Eisenhower the American space program was in its infancy born in a time based "need" as even he himself could see the horizon of issues with the USSR; the space program was created with Allied agreement in order to protect the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain were forced to develop nuclear armaments together in order of making the world a safer place. President Eisenhower had also known that Vietnam was on the rise, confirmed later by President Kennedy and greatly increased by President Johnson with the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964. What the “Military Industrial Complex” failed to draw attention toward was the increased risk of the "other side"; what Butler failed to realize is that Corporal Hitler was going to have to be stopped eventually - General Butler never witnessed the Declaration of War by Germany upon the USA and his assumptions never take this into consideration any more than the "other side" of the globe where the military build up in Japan would lead to technology able to hit the USA by aircraft via a determined Imperial Navy. General Butler fails miserably in this book. I use the reference to the farewell speech by President Eisenhower here because there are many parallels (but in a less emotional manner) to General Butler's opinion. General Butler doesn't consider the fact of the attack of "Black Tom", the sinking of the Lusitania, nor the Zimmerman Telegram - these points are fully ignored.

When I think of Smedley Butler I think of a Camp on Okinawa Japan that is one of many Marine Bases on the Island. I also think of one 1st Lieutenant Dale Dye who chewed me out for not saluting him – my eyes were facing down looking at paperwork as I was gently walking – to the Lieutenant’s credit he didn’t chew me out that badly in reflection; at the time I was mostly embarrassed as a young Lance Corporal. Times have changed since 1981 as they had from 1918 to 1935 and beyond. The next time I would see Dale Dye was when I was in a movie theatre and heard that distinctive voice in the movie “Platoon” where he played an Army Captain; he also played the crusty old Colonel in “Band of Brothers”.

In conclusion – I did not care for the modern day introduction nor conclusion. The pages within and between that represented this book in 1935 was simply off base - time would prove this. The world in the end can thank none other than Sir Winston S. Churchill for his fortitude of strength and that of the British people who fought this Second World War alone for 2 years before the Russians were forced to enter the war. Had Corporal Hitler not attacked the USSR, the UK would have been forced to fight for nearly another 6 months. Operation Barbarossa began one year and one day after the death of General Butler. Three stars is generous in my view but would rather give this book a 2.5 so I will round up.
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4

Sep 21, 2014

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/w...

The recitation of figures, combined with the Mad As Hell tone sometimes makes him sound like a drunk accountant railing at his bosses in the bar on Friday night, but it doesn't negate his points in the slightest. I can imagine that after having his epiphany about the profit-driven motive for WW1, the gathering storm clouds of war in the mid-30s had him going out of his mind at insane history repeating itself.

A shortened version (sans the famous quote cited http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/w...

The recitation of figures, combined with the Mad As Hell tone sometimes makes him sound like a drunk accountant railing at his bosses in the bar on Friday night, but it doesn't negate his points in the slightest. I can imagine that after having his epiphany about the profit-driven motive for WW1, the gathering storm clouds of war in the mid-30s had him going out of his mind at insane history repeating itself.

A shortened version (sans the famous quote cited in several other reviews here) is at the link above. It's only 16 printed pages. You owe it to yourself to read it if you have an interest in WW1 and the cyclical nature of America's foreign military adventures. ...more
5

Feb 11, 2009

The pieces that make up this book were first published about 70 years ago. Butler was a highly decorated Marine Brigadier General who was involved in many military expeditions in the early 20th century to countries like Haiti, China and Cuba. After retiring, he exposed a corporate/fascist plot to seize the White House right after Franklin Roosevelt became President. After that, he began to speak out about the real motives behind America's military actions--profit.

Just before World War I, the The pieces that make up this book were first published about 70 years ago. Butler was a highly decorated Marine Brigadier General who was involved in many military expeditions in the early 20th century to countries like Haiti, China and Cuba. After retiring, he exposed a corporate/fascist plot to seize the White House right after Franklin Roosevelt became President. After that, he began to speak out about the real motives behind America's military actions--profit.

Just before World War I, the profit margin of the average American corporation was in the single digits (6%, 8%, perhaps 10% profit yearly). Then why, when the war came, did that same profit margin skyrocket to hundreds, or even thousands of percent? The author also mentions several cases of companies who sold the US Government totally useless items. One company sold Uncle Sam 12 dozen 48-inch wrenches. The problem is that there was only one nut large enough for those wrenches; it holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. The wrenches were put on freight cars and sent all around America to try and find a use for them. When the war ended, the wrench maker was about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. The parallels with today are too numerous to mention.

The next time war is declared, and conscription is on the horizon, Butler proposes a limited national plebiscite on whether or not America should go to war. But the voting should be limited only to those of conscription age, those who will do the actual fighting and dying. Also, one month before anyone is conscripted, all of American business and industry who profits from war should be conscripted, from weapons makers to international banks to uniform makers. All employees of those companies, from the CEO down to the assembly line worker, should have their salary cut to equal the base pay of the soldier who is fighting, and dying, to improve their bottom line. Let's see how long the war fever lasts. Also, go to a VA hospital to see the real aftermath of war.

This isn't so much an antiwar book as it is an isolationist book. The separate pieces were published in a time when many Americans felt that getting involved in another European war that had nothing to do with America, was a terrible idea. The author certainly pulls no punches. This book is very highly recommended, especially for those who think that war is a clean videogame where no one really gets hurt. It gets two strong thumbs up.

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4

Nov 20, 2015

Today, we are knee deep in total and utter putrid shit.

This here little book seems tame now, but I guess it packed a punch back in the day; hence my very generous 4 stars.

I admire Smedley's big brass balls for writing such a 'piece' - back when few knew how corrupt and disgusting governments and bankers are.

Today, we all know - they are all lying Twunts.




3

Jun 09, 2014

An important message that must be heard. It's a little sad that in our culture it seems only a two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor can say something like this and be taken seriously, but that's the world we live in.

On another note I felt a little disappointed that my copy of this book was only 35 pages long. I presume that other versions of this book are supplemented with other writing by Butler, but 35 pages??? That's not a book, that's an op-ed.
4

Nov 18, 2017

What Butler saw in his day certainly lives on in ours; young men and women being sent off to fight for a cause that isn't what they think it is, profit masquerading as patriotism, men stuffing their wallets off a war that costs them nothing while shattered minds and bodies pay everything for nothing in return.

Butler's manner is very approachable, like an old man at a fireside, but this old man has the edperience to back up his words. We would do well to heed his counsel.
4

May 18, 2017

Smedley Butler was only one of two Marines and nineteen Americans to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor twice. After his retirement from the Corps he wrote an article condemning war as a means for some people to get rich(er) without their families serving in the Armed Forces. He was also a champion of veteran's rights. This work is a thoughtful collection of his speeches and papers on the subjects. A good read for thought.
5

Jul 15, 2014

Only a thinking soldier is ever truly a hero, and real heroes are what governments ruled by mislaid incentives despise the most.
What's surprising as one reads this is how World War II and even the paradigm shift of the Cold War and subsequent intervention policy seem only to have exacerbated the scale of the problem described in Butler's thesis rather than changing any fundamental feature of it.

Perhaps the broader tragedy is that such a short, cogent argument by one of the most decorated Only a thinking soldier is ever truly a hero, and real heroes are what governments ruled by mislaid incentives despise the most.
What's surprising as one reads this is how World War II and even the paradigm shift of the Cold War and subsequent intervention policy seem only to have exacerbated the scale of the problem described in Butler's thesis rather than changing any fundamental feature of it.

Perhaps the broader tragedy is that such a short, cogent argument by one of the most decorated soldiers in history is not considered required reading. ...more
5

Apr 24, 2014

Smedley Butler's insight is extraordinary  extraordinary in terms of his highly informed experiences, and extraordinary in terms of its modernity.

'War is a Racket', as many observers note, could have been written as a critique of our time. But that's not surprising. Butler's observations would be equally valid during the Roman Empire, the expansion of the British Empire, the conquest of South America by Spain and Portugal... pretty much any organised society that has commercial, political and Smedley Butler's insight is extraordinary – extraordinary in terms of his highly informed experiences, and extraordinary in terms of its modernity.

'War is a Racket', as many observers note, could have been written as a critique of our time. But that's not surprising. Butler's observations would be equally valid during the Roman Empire, the expansion of the British Empire, the conquest of South America by Spain and Portugal... pretty much any organised society that has commercial, political and military functions.

War is a racket. War was a racket during Smedley Butler's time. And war will continue to be a racket for a very long time. Young people will join armed forces, capitalists will make profits and politicians will hunger for political power.

That's not to say you shouldn't read this. You should. ...more
2

Jul 15, 2011

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Info: Major General Smedley ButlerSmedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 June 21, 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.

blurb about the author - During his 34 years of Marine Corps service, Butler was awarded numerous medals for heroism including the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (the highest Marine medal at its time for officers), and subsequently the Medal Info: Major General Smedley ButlerSmedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 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.

blurb about the author - During his 34 years of Marine Corps service, Butler was awarded numerous medals for heroism including the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (the highest Marine medal at its time for officers), and subsequently the Medal of Honor twice. Notably, he is one of only 19 people to be twice awarded the Medal of Honor, and one of only three to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.

In addition to his military career, Smedley Butler was noted for his outspoken anti-interventionist views, and his book War is a Racket. His book was one of the first works describing the workings of the military-industrial complex and after retiring from service, he became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.

In 1934, he informed the United States Congress that a group of wealthy industrialists had plotted a military coup known as the Business Plot to overthrow the government.

This audio is read by a SAM-esque automated voice, which takes a bit of getting used to. The vocal stresses are quite jolting. Eye-opening stuff this, really.

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

Major General Smedley Butler & The Fascist Takeover Of The USA - A Warning From History


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2

Jun 23, 2014

Major General Butler's main point is spot on; war is (predominately) a racket arranged by politicians to achieve their own ends while attempting to disguise their war efforts as defending "freedom."

However, the General only demonstrates that certain companies turned a profit while supplying the US government during WWI. He never proves his thesis. The fact that someone turns a profit (whether small or large) is not a problem at all. In a free market, the suppliers who better engineer, market, Major General Butler's main point is spot on; war is (predominately) a racket arranged by politicians to achieve their own ends while attempting to disguise their war efforts as defending "freedom."

However, the General only demonstrates that certain companies turned a profit while supplying the US government during WWI. He never proves his thesis. The fact that someone turns a profit (whether small or large) is not a problem at all. In a free market, the suppliers who better engineer, market, and supply their product will always come out ahead of other suppliers. To insinuate that a provider, earning a positive return on his investment, is guilty of causing a war because he profits from his enterprise is faulty logic at best and most definitely socialistic.

What the General would have done better to do would have been to demonstrate that, behind the scenes, the product suppliers were the very people pressuring Woodrow Wilson into the war. Or, better yet, he could have attempted to show that Wilson (or members of his cabinet) had known they would personally profit from the war.

The second concern with the pamphlet is his answer to contrived war. The General proposes that to stop unjust war from continuing into the future it is necessary that “one month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation -- it must conscript capital and industry and labor” and goes on to state that “everyone in the nation [must] be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches.” This idea is rank Marxist thinking and is possibly even more dangerous than the error he is attempting to fight against.

I agree with General Butler that WWI was not a legitimate war. I also agree that too often wars are created only to line Federal bank accounts at the cost of the human life. But we can’t stop unjust war by becoming socialists. If we don’t handle the issue of the racketeering of war with moral character to begin with, we will be sure to end up where communist Russia did. ...more
5

Nov 01, 2017

This book was a suggestion from a friend. I picked it up on Amazon and I am better for it after reading. Brigadier General Smedly D. Butler is the most decorated american soldier of all time and after he did 33 years in the Marine Corps, and survived WW1 he had a different stance on many things. War Is A Racket is his concrete summation of how we make war, why we make war, and who profits and pays the price. Included in this book is his Amendment For Peace, which details three things we should This book was a suggestion from a friend. I picked it up on Amazon and I am better for it after reading. Brigadier General Smedly D. Butler is the most decorated american soldier of all time and after he did 33 years in the Marine Corps, and survived WW1 he had a different stance on many things. War Is A Racket is his concrete summation of how we make war, why we make war, and who profits and pays the price. Included in this book is his Amendment For Peace, which details three things we should amend to the constitution and why we should have never left our shores looking for a fight. Written in 1935, this rings as poignant and true today, even moreso, than it ever has. I encourage anyone who just want to hear how war is viewed by a man who fought it and lead others to their deaths. This was an eye opening read and I think very soon I shall read it again, just to take in everything this master of Antiwar has to say.
Every now and again something like this comes across my radar and I am better for it. This has had me thinking ever since and probably will for awhile. Yeah, its that good and the truth of it inescapable.

Danny ...more
4

Dec 02, 2012

A short condemnation of war by a man who spent his life fighting wars. Smedley demonstrates the high public cost and resultant high business profits of war, giving many examples of US companies which greatly increased their profits during WW1. He also describes the waste and corruption inherent in military spending.

Smedley makes the amusing (from a detached perspective) observation that in WW1 the US cleverly replaced recruitment bonuses with medals. Giving soldiers medals for service was much A short condemnation of war by a man who spent his life fighting wars. Smedley demonstrates the high public cost and resultant high business profits of war, giving many examples of US companies which greatly increased their profits during WW1. He also describes the waste and corruption inherent in military spending.

Smedley makes the amusing (from a detached perspective) observation that in WW1 the US cleverly replaced recruitment bonuses with medals. Giving soldiers medals for service was much cheaper than giving money, which was the norm in the US Civil War. He also points out that between taxes and bonds many enlisted soldiers effectively received no salary.

Far less amusingly, Smedley describes how in 1916, a delegation from the allies visited President Wilson and bluntly told the president that the allies would lose the war, and thus no be able to repay the six billion dollars they owed to the USA. This was the galvanising motion for US involvement.

War = $ is the message of this book. ...more
4

Jan 22, 2015

General Butler's tract from 1935 is dated in many ways - his isolationist views are of an earlier time; he expected a military alliance between France and Russia in the 1930s; and he underestimated the danger (and evil) posed by the Japanese Empire's fascist regime. Nonetheless, General Butler's detailed, quantitative critique of war profiteering and the corruption he witnessed as a Marine is damning. He makes a convincing argument that war is abhorrent, save for the people making money off it. General Butler's tract from 1935 is dated in many ways - his isolationist views are of an earlier time; he expected a military alliance between France and Russia in the 1930s; and he underestimated the danger (and evil) posed by the Japanese Empire's fascist regime. Nonetheless, General Butler's detailed, quantitative critique of war profiteering and the corruption he witnessed as a Marine is damning. He makes a convincing argument that war is abhorrent, save for the people making money off it. His proposed solutions to war — make war industry leaders work at soldiers' pay levels to see how hard it is; stop predatory financial practices targeting veterans; and let all military-age Americans vote whether or not to OK a war — aren't going to happen anytime soon, but they inspire reflection and capture a past socialist ethos in America. Butler was a brave man, and he shows us that military veterans, at least in retirement, need not be uncritical of militarism. He also reminds us that free speech and informed dissidence can sometimes be the most patriotic of actions. ...more

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