Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History

Hans Schnidt, Author, Hans Schmidt, Author University Press of Kentucky $32 (292p) ISBN 978-0-8131-1619-8
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. (July)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
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