War Is a Racket is a speech and a short book, by Smedley D. Based on his career military experience, Butler discusses how business interests commercially benefit, such as war profiteering from warfare. He had been appointed commanding officer of the Gendarmerie during the United States occupation of Haiti , which lasted from to The speech was so well received that he wrote a longer version as a short book published in
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Butler ,. Adam Parfrey Introduction. Major General Smedley D. Butler was a military hero of the first rank, the winner of two Medals of Honour, a true 'fighting marine' whose courage and patriotism could not be doubted. Yet he came to believe that the wars in which he and his men had fought and bled and died were all pre-planned conflicts, designed not so much to defend America as to bloat the balance sheets Major General Smedley D.
Yet he came to believe that the wars in which he and his men had fought and bled and died were all pre-planned conflicts, designed not so much to defend America as to bloat the balance sheets of US banks and corporations. In them, Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests commercially benefit from warfare.
After his retirement from the Marine Corps, Gen. Butler made a nationwide tour in the early s giving his speech "War is a Racket". The speech was so well received that he wrote a longer version as a small book with the same title that was published in by Round Table Press, Inc. The booklet was also condensed in Reader's Digest as a book supplement which helped popularize his message.
In an introduction to the Reader's Digest version, Lowell Thomas, the "as told to" author of Butler's oral autobiographical adventures, praised Butler's "moral as well as physical courage". Get A Copy. Paperback , 79 pages. Published August 1st by Feral House first published November More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about War is a Racket , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 18, James rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone, especially if they're considering going into the military. Shelves: history , military , economics , literature , culture-and-politics , memoirs. 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.
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 somethi 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.
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. 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. View all 3 comments. Dec 14, Chris Dietzel rated it it was amazing. This falls under the category of "Must Read. 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. 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.
Oct 03, Vannessa Anderson rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , favorite-books , american-history. 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 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 I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. Now that I see the international war clouds again gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out. 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. We acquired outside territory. 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. 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.
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. 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! War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people.
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier
Chapter 3: Who Pays The Bills? Chapter 5: To Hell With War! Smedley Darlington Butler. Born: West Chester, Pa. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope.
War is still ‘a racket’
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