... the book is far more extraordinary than even the life of Smedley Butler ... The book thus affords a compelling and insightful meditation on the trauma people still feel as a result of Butler’s career and the American ambitions it represented ... Katz sketches an insightful comparison between Butler and his almost-exact contemporary Franklin Roosevelt.
... as Katz travels in the footsteps of Butler, from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Shanghai, China and back, he illuminates how the Corps had been used in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to make de facto colonies out of the Philippines, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also does a masterful job detailing our 1914 invasion of Mexico and the 1900 and 1927 occupations of China ... Katz provides a sober look at Butler ... Beyond the fascinating and familiar portrait of Butler, Katz also excels at depicting the domestic and international politics of the Banana War era and how the United States government and large corporations worked hand in hand to create a string of U.S. outposts around the world ... Katz’s realism may shock many readers, but they would be well served to join him in pulling back the curtain, tipping over the jugs of institutional Kool-Aid, and taking a long, cold hard look in the proverbial mirror. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, this is a raw historical perspective that will both fascinate and unsettle.
Gangsters of Capitalism uncovers the ex-Marine’s hidden moments of personal reckoning while turning an unsentimental eye on the real evils he committed during his time as a blunt instrument of US domination ... Katz’s book is singular and hard to pin down ... Katz oscillates between Butler’s exploits and his own account of their afterlives. This folding and bending of time creates a whiplash effect that generates its own kind of narrative momentum, and Gangsters of Capitalism quickly picks up steam to become an exhilarating hybrid of studious history and adventuresome travelogue. As a result, it contains within its 350 pages a much more ambitious set of arguments than military biographies can typically accommodate ... What Butler intuited in the final years of his life, and what Katz illustrates beyond a shadow of a doubt in Gangers of Capitalism, is that eventually, inevitably, every war comes home.