Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex

Overview

Enthralling and explosive, Prophets of War is an exposé of America’s largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his famous warning about the dangers of the military industrial complex, he never would have dreamed that a company could accumulate the kind of power and influence now wielded by this behemoth company.

As a full-service weapons maker, Lockheed Martin receives over $25 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. From aircraft and...

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Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex

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Overview

Enthralling and explosive, Prophets of War is an exposé of America’s largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his famous warning about the dangers of the military industrial complex, he never would have dreamed that a company could accumulate the kind of power and influence now wielded by this behemoth company.

As a full-service weapons maker, Lockheed Martin receives over $25 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. From aircraft and munitions, to the abysmal Star Wars missile defense program, to the spy satellites that the NSA has used to monitor Americans’ phone calls without their knowledge, Lockheed Martin’s reaches into all areas of US defense and American life. William Hartung’s meticulously researched history follows the company’s meteoric growth and explains how this arms industry giant has shaped US foreign policy for decades.

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Editorial Reviews

Josiah Bunting III
…careful, meticulously documented…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Corporate clout, military innovation, and political influence make an uneasy mix in this smart and thorough corporate history of Lockheed Martin's emergence as the nation's largest weapons contractor. Hartung (And Weapons for All) traces the company's rise from unimpressive military aircraft manufacturer in WWI through its emergence as a major supplier of fighters and bombers for the Allies in WWII to corporate behemoth and power player in setting American foreign policy. The author explores how deeply Lockheed's tentacles have penetrated American economic and political life, pulling the curtain back on decades of unsavory dealings: Lockheed's decision to sell airplanes to Japan in the late 1930s (they were later converted to military use); reports of widespread bribery of foreign executives and politicians; and vengeful retribution against Pentagon whistleblowers. Hartung reveals how the company's adaptability has helped it survive--and expand--even as its reputation became tarnished, and echoes President Eisenhower's argument that the only way to ensure against "military-industrial" abuses is to have "an alert and engaged citizenry." This book is a fine step in that direction. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The history of defense contractor Lockheed Martin begins in 1916 with brothers Allan and Malcolm Loughead, who later changed their name and the company's to Lockheed to avoid pronunciation confusion. What initially began as a San Francisco charter service ultimately grew into America's largest military contractor. Hartung (director, Arms & Security Initiative, New America Fdn.; And Weapons for All) delves deeply into the company's story, with each of the ten chapters covering a significant period in Lockheed Martin's history, including the C-5A scandal, its merger with Martin Marietta, and the controversial 1971 bailout with a $250 million government loan. VERDICT This book is all action and provides a compelling mix of politics, business, and technology. While Hartung's exposé focuses mainly on the interactions between business and politics, especially in the areas of lobbying and bribery, he does discuss some of the technologies Lockheed created over the years.—Elizabeth Nelson, UOP Lib., Des Plaines, IL
Kirkus Reviews

Disturbing account of a weapons conglomerate's rise and undue influence on domestic politics.

Hartung (How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy?: A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration, 2003, etc.), director of the New America Foundation's Arms and Security Initiative, constructs an accessible, unnerving history of the evolution of Eisenhower's prophesied "military-industrial complex." As the Pentagon coddled companies like Lockheed Martin throughout the tumult of downturns, mergers and wars hot and cold, a monster was unwittingly created. The resulting conglomerate commands considerable power, in ways that are largely opaque. Hartung tries to cut through the thicket, examining recent controversial projects like the F-22 Raptor—at $350 million per plane, the most expensive ever built—and demonstrating a repetitive pattern in which the supposedly transparent relationship between the military and contractors inevitably leads to cost overruns, fraud and the notorious "revolving door" relationship between public service and the private sector. Strangely, Lockheed Martin had modest beginnings. The Loughead brothers were tinkerers who struggled to break into the aviation field during the 1920s and '30s, when they achieved respect with the Electra, plane of choice for Amelia Earhart. World War II brought financial success and convinced the rapidly expanding company that the future lay in aggressively embracing military sales rather than the civilian market. In the '50s, Lockheed's pursuit of projects like the Polaris missile system facilitated its transformation "from an aviation company...to a genuine aerospace giant." By 1970, the company was mired in controversy over its enormous C-5A transport, whose safety issues and wasted millions led to congressional hearings. Yet Lockheed thrived again during the '80s. Most recently, the company has moved in Orwellian directions, including maintaining FBI fingerprint databases and IRS records. Hartung is a skillful researcher and persuasive journalist, yet his neutral tone has the odd effect of dulling the impact of the many outrages he unearths: e.g., Lockheed and the Army rigged the 1984 tests that suggested Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" dream was feasible, a deception that went undiscovered for a decade.

A bit more polemicism might have increased appeal for a still-relevant topic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568586977
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 522,811
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

William Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2011

    Highly recommended, especially for LM employees and formaer employees.

    As s former LM employee, I was always proud to believe that LM was a completely ethical, and above the norm, company. Now, I'm not so sure. I have enjoyed listening to Bob Stevens talk when he visited each business unit and answered our questions with what I thought was complete candor and integrity. While I understand that a business needs to make a profit, they are citizens of the world and should be held to a high ethical standard.

    What Mr. Hartung has failed to notice, is that LM has ventured into innovative, less violent undertakings. While war is always 'good for business', LM is branching out into other disciplines that are more beneficial to society and the global economy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The untold tale of the Pentagon's symbiotic relationship with defense The untold tale of the Pentagon's symbiotic relationship with defense contractor Lockheed Martin

    Muckraking author William Hartung delves into the military-industrial complex with a corporate profile of its largest, most successful beneficiary, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed has survived bankruptcy and lean financial times, and Hartung contends that it has thrived in part through questionable business practices, milking taxpayers of billions and abetting Pentagon malfeasance. Hartung weaves a tale of the interface of armaments and politics, and says alleged Pentagon incompetence benefited both Lockheed and individual states with pork-barrel military projects. This complex, well-told story states that Lockheed eventually garnered $25 billion annually in defense contracts and now plays an outsized role in affecting US foreign policy. getAbstract recommends this book as important background reading about the corporate-military complex, the shadowy processes that may affect policy and in the economic history of the US defense industry.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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