Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America's Empire Spiral-Bound | January 18, 2022

Jonathan M. Katz

★★★★☆+ from 1,001 to 10,000 ratings

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A groundbreaking journey tracing America’s violent and forgotten path to world power, told through the extraordinary life of a Marine who was there at every step of the way.

Smedley D. Butler was the most celebrated warfighter of his time. Bestselling books were about him. Hollywood adored him. Where the flag went, “The Fighting Quaker” went—serving in every major overseas conflict from the Spanish-American War until World War II. Butler boasted two Medals of Honor, seized the Philippines and land for the Panama Canal, led troops in China, and invaded and occupied Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and more. Yet in retirement, Butler could only sum up his career with dismay: "I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

Award-winning author Jonathan Myerson Katz travelled across the world—from China to Central America, the Mexico border to Guantánamo Bay—and pored over personal letters of Smedley Butler, his fellow Marines, and Butler’s Quaker family on the Philadelphia Main Line. Along the way, Katz sees the legacies of the Marines’ actions are still alive: meeting a Sandinista commander in Nicaragua, a martial arts lesson from a Chinese devotee of the Boxer Rebellion, and playing a P.O.W. in a Filipino movie about their "American War." Tracing a path from the first great wave of U.S. overseas expansionism in 1898, to the rise of fascism in America in the 1930s, to the upheaval in our own time, Gangsters of Capitalism is an urgent telling of a formative era most Americans never learned about, but much of the world can never forget.

Publisher: Macmillan
Original Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket
Pages: 432 pages
ISBN-10: 1250135583
Item Weight: 1.4 lbs
Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
Customer Reviews: 4 out of 5 stars 1,001 to 10,000 ratings