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Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of Warby Suzanne Simons
Synopses & Reviews
The name Blackwater, the world's largest private military contractor, became infamous early in the Iraq War, when four of its men were seized by a mob in Fallujah, murdered, and hung from a bridge for the world to see. Since then, Blackwater has expanded dramatically; its men have been involved in major scandals, including a shooting spree in Iraq that has now caused the Iraqi government to blacklist the company. As Suzanne Simons reveals in this first-ever inside look, based on extraordinary access to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and dozens of his key employees, Blackwater is just the tip of Erik Prince's empire. He publicly reassures everyone that Blackwater only works for the U.S., and would never become a mercenary organization for other governments, yet he has another entire company dedicated to doing just that, hiring foreign nationals, working for well over a dozen different governments, and overlapping in crucial ways with Blackwater. In addition, he has a private spying company, run by former top CIA men, employing extraordinarily sensitive methods and technical sophistication, for rent by any interested party, from companies to governments. Finally, he is amassing an air fleet that is large enough to serve as a miniature air force, not just by purchasing planes and helicopters, but also by building his own unmanned drones. In short, the full story of Erik Prince and his now-crumbling empire is a story of one of the modern world's most influential military figures, and it has never been told. Prince is a man who shuns publicity except when absolutely necessary, to tamp down a scandal; even when he has wanted to tell his story, he has been shut down by his clients in Washington who won't stand for it. Instead, he has given Suzanne Simons hours of interviews; access to his staff; invitations to join him on trips to Afghanistan; and more. He is a fascinating figure, part deeply conservative, evangelical patriot; part rebellious, go-it-alone kingpin. He is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and his companies are worth billions. His empire dwarfs all of its competitors, to such a degree that even if the military wanted to wash its hands of him, they wouldn't be able to replace him.
"CNN executive producer Simons balances private and public accounts of Erik Prince, founder and owner of the country's most notorious private military contractor. In this often glowing, mildly critical portrait, Prince is depicted as a fierce individualist, visionary entrepreneur and patriot, an upstanding guy's guy, albeit born into enormous privilege, right-wing values and Beltway ties. A determined overachiever, Prince trained as a navy SEAL until his father's death led him to an enterprising idea to provide the training facilities SEALs needed. Certain contradictions ensue: Prince is known to be deeply religious, so his affair while his first wife is dying of cancer surprised many friends. Likewise, Prince's free market faith denigrates government involvement in business, but his Blackwater project only survived by means of hefty government contracts. Simons's premise — that all questions arising from Blackwater's relevance go back to 'one man' — justifies emphasis on the personal, but the book is most instructive when straying to include Dick Cheney's impact on Pentagon outsourcing or General Sanchez's frustration over boundary confusion in Iraq between U.S. soldiers and the State Department's veritable 'private army.' (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Simons (an executive producer at CNN) profiles Erik Prince and the mercenary company he founded, Blackwater (now re-branded Xe), the subject of much controversy for its activities in Iraq, where its personnel have repeatedly been accused of opening fire on Iraqi civilians with no accountability. Having been granted greater access to Prince than most journalists, Simons describes how the company was founded, how it gained contracts to operate in Iraq, and the controversies surrounding the company, in particular the September 16, 2007, incident in Baghdad's Nisoor Square, where 17 civilians were killed and Blackwater claims of being under fire were dismissed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as Prince's reactions to the controversies, which seem to have largely consisted of blaming the media. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Based on extraordinary access to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and dozens of his key employees, "Master of War" reveals that Blackwater--the controversial military contractor--is just the tip of Prince's empire.
“Suzanne Simons is a masterful storyteller. But make no mistake—Master of War is not a work of fiction….A powerful and true account.”
—Wolf Blitzer, anchor, CNNs The Situation Room
Master of War is the riveting true story of Eric Prince, the ex-Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater and built the worlds largest military contractor, privatizing war for client nations around the world. A CNN producer and anchor, Suzanne Simons is the first journalist to get deep inside Blackwater—and, as a result of her unprecedented access, Master of War provides the most complete and revelatory account of the rise of this powerful corporate army and the remarkable entrepreneur who brought it into being, while offering an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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