The latest recommendation is a book by William Hartung, the director of the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative. The book is titled Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
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.
In hoping to understand the workings of the military-industrial complex, this is an essential read.