Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pulp friction

Marines were named "teufel hunden," or devil dogs, by German fighters in WWI after the Battle of Belleau Wood. Devil Dog (subtitled: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America) is the aptly named inaugural book in the Pulp History series coming in October from Simon & Schuster (Shadow Nights: The Secret War Against Hitler follows in November).

You might not think of Smedley Darlington Butler as being the moniker for a tough guy, but this award-winning Marine major general garnered a whole heap of awards: two Medals of Honor, a Marine Corps Brevet Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distiguished Service Medal and the French Order of the Black Star.

Devil Dog follows Butler's military career (he went to war at the age of 16) through the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Banana Wars, the occupation of Haiti, the Mexican Revolution, World War I, and other major and minor skirmishes. And as his military career progressed, Butler became more embittered and disillusioned with U.S. Imperialism and with the men who sent the soldiers out to die. In his 1935 book War Is a Racket, Butler described the reasons we go to war as having more to do with banks and business than with governments.

How did Butler save America? Would you believe exposing a fascist coup, a Wall Street plot to overthrow the president? That, and its bizarre investigation, are to be found in his post military years, along with his run for senate, his anti-prohibition fervor and his campaign to rid the streets of Philadelphia of bootleggers, bandits and b-girls.

Devil Dog, written by David Talbot with illustrations by Spain Rodriguez, is a fast-paced read supported by photographs, cartoon strips and newspaper clippings. Its pulpiness is redolent in its man-of-action main character, exotic locals, provocative situations, jingoistic attitudes and the occasional line scripted of purple prose.

1 comment:

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