War is an experience that forever changes a person. I can’t think of any person that I know who returned from active combat without any long-lasting effects. My uncle, who served in Vietnam, is adverse to the loud explosions from the firecrackers on the 4th of July to this day. Many veterans have become outspoken critics of war and have written numerous books and given speeches, the famous of which that comes to mind is Ron Kovic, portrayed brilliantly by Tom Cruise in Oliver Stone’s ‘Born On The Fourth Of July’.
Years before Kovic fought in Vietnam becoming a paraplegic in the process, there was another former marine who became an outspoken critic of war. Smedley Butler, at the time the most decorated soldier in United States history, wrote this short but eye-opening book about the financial aspect of war and the benefits that are obtained by few behind the scenes. I forewarn the reader that the author is very frank in his beliefs about the true motives of war. For those that are overly patriotic, this book will rattle the nerves and will be dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic and bitter former soldier. But for those who have an open mind and are not blind to the horrors and financial gains of war, this book will resonate with long-held beliefs that war is hell. And while I do believe that some conflicts this country has engaged in were justified and necessary, there’s still a very dark side to war that most people would rather not know about.