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Devil Dog – Books I Done Been Reading!

Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America
by David Talbot, illustrations by Spain Rodriguez.
Pulp History series

Pulp History is a series of books that attempt to bring history alive by chronicling the feats of larger than life figures from American history, whose lives aren’t well known but are filled with experiences over decades that make you keep reading to find out what happened. Devil Dog follows Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine in history, as he fights in wars ranging from the Boxer Rebellion to the Spanish-American War, Nicaragua, Haiti, World War I, and even the war against booze during the Prohibition period. Butler is a warrior, but not a dumb grunt following orders, Butler gets the job done, and gets the job done better. Much of his time is spent cleaning up after other idiots who couldn’t manage a Dairy Queen, preventing US troops from committing war crimes, and saving lives. Even after he retires from military service, he’s called in to be the top cop in Philadelphia during Prohibition. But Butler ruffles feathers as he doesn’t give the high society buffoons a break, and busts them just as much as the lower class folk for flaunting their alcohol use. Even after being forced out by the mayor, Butler’s reputation is not sullied. And when broke veterans march on Washington during the 1930s, Butler helps organize and keep them safe, despite Hoover sending in the army.

Butler literally saves America as he helps thwart the attempted coup against FDR cooked up by some businessmen in the 1930s/40s. The fact that most of those involved were not punished due to their social status is one of the many injustices we have had to deal with as a nation. Butler wrote War Is a Racket in 1935, which is a great booklet, with quotes such as:

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. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

The whole booklet is available online.

The Pulp History series isn’t a comic book, but it is filled with illustrations that come straight out of underground comix art. Combined with the narrative and sidebar stories, the pictures help make the book interesting and fill in visual gaps that photos and historical artifacts of the eras don’t quite do by themselves.

Butler is a hero of the working class, a true American patriot, and not the kind of “patriot” that has become the merit badge of teabagging idiots raging against the very things that keep their lives from falling to pieces. Devil Dog tells his story well, and makes me proud that I share the same country as this man. It doesn’t glorify him, Butler wasn’t perfect and many of the campaigns he was on had problems, but a non-whitewashed history is the real history, and the history we should all know about and acknowledge.
Devil Dog David Talbot Smedley Butler
Devil Dog Smedley Butler

Books I Done Been Reading! name shamelessly stolen from Vault of Buncheness

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - October 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

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