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War is a Racket

Smedley D. Butler

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Feral House

Published : 1935, 2003

Copyright : Not known

ISBN-10 : PB 0-922915-86-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-922915-86-6

Publisher's Write-Up

At a time when President George W. Bush wages unending wars against his 'Axis of Evil', it is important to remember what war means, both to winner and loser. War is a Racket, originally printed in 1935 by The Round Table Press, has been reprinted by both Peaceniks and anti-interventionist right-wingers throughout the century and is also available in truncated form on a number of websites.

The original volume is scarce, and only available from online booksellers for three hundred dollars and more. The author of this inflammatory text, General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour, was the most awarded and highly esteemed soldier in American history. A very popular and plainspoken man, General Butler exposed an American attempt at a coupd'etat in 1932, where he was to be made the first fascist leader of America. At no time was he more outspoken and his anti-interventionism more notorious than in his 1933 speech, 'War is a Racket', in which he laid bare what he considered to be the thinly veiled imperialist agenda behind every war fought on foreign shores.

This edition now provides an introduction contextualising what has become a classic anti-war text and manifesto for the peace movement, re-instating its significance to pro- anti-war controversy it continues to generate more than half a century on.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (310804) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
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 that 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 Veterans 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.
Paul Lappen (31st August 2004)

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