Just got done reading The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot for the third time. Yeah, it's probably my favorite book of all time and highly recommend it to everyone with an interest in military history, geopolitics, or real-life action/adventure stories. The book smashes the myth that things like nation-building, lengthy occupations of foreign countries, undeclared wars, counterinsurgency campaigns, regime changes, and serving under foreign officers are new to the American military. The United States was not an isolationist country prior to the World Wars as some believe, but always militarily intervening in other nation's affairs. Hell, the first attempted regime change by American was back in 1805 (an American-led expedition advanced into Tripoli [now Libya] to overthrow the country's monarch and replace him with his brother, but the war [First Barbary War] ended before they made much progress). Did you know the United States fought a brief, little war with Korea on Korean soil in 1871? This great book talks about various forgotten wars and conflicts in American's past.
Damn, this book is so exciting at times, filled with great battle stories about America's forgotten wars (in places like Latin America, the Philippines, China, the Pacific, Russia, and North Africa) that simply need to be made into movies. Hell, somebody should buy the rights to the book or whatever and make an epic T.V. mini-series. Marine officer Smedley Butler, who served in the Philippines, Mexico, Nicaragua, and China should have a biopic made about him (according to legend, while helping put down a rebellion in 1912 Nicaragua, he had to take a train through enemy territory, so he stood on top of the train swinging two sacks of sand and screaming "Dynamite!" to prevent the rebels from attacking). I could go on forever about the badass stories in this book (how about the American naval officer who tried to colonize a cannibal-filled Pacific island in 1813 without authorization from the government?), but you should probably just read the book. As a bonus, the book talks about how "small war" tactics could've won the Vietnam War. Not convinced? The book makes a Helluva case, in my opinion.
A warning though, the author, Max Boot, can come across as a bit militaristic at times (it almost seems like he's complaining that American servicemen in 1994 Haiti don't have the same "swashbuckling" qualities that American marines decades before had) and frequently speaks of the glory people in the military can achieve. He constantly fellates the U.S. Marine Corps and seems to downplay the economic exploitation of Third World countries by Western big business. In one part, he kinda says that servicemen dying overseas can be good because it can increase morale and the will to fight. That being said, most of his political commentary doesn't come out until the last few chapters, so most of the book is full of thrilling, fact-based retellings of the United States' forgotten imperialist past.
Besides the author's politics (he does make a lot of good points, though, so I'm not bashing everything he stands for), the only gripe I have with the book is that it doesn't really talk about the post-World War II "small wars." Vietnam and the major 1990s interventions (Somalia, Haiti, and the Balkans) are talked about, but mainly to contrast them to previous military adventures, rather than to educate the reader on them.
Besides that book, I've read Charlton Heston's autobiography and several Osprey military history books