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Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War Hardcover – June 23, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; English Language edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061651354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061651359
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

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.


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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Kuntz on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This excellent account compares favorably with Jeremy Scahill's 2007 book about Blackwater, in that it is based on interviews with Erik Prince and other key Blackwater execs, and reviews the private military contractor's accomplishments as well as failures. It also carries the story forward to the end of 2008, including all the legal difficulties at the end of the company's existence. It is very enjoyable to read but could have benefited from at least some footnoting of sources relied upon.
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39 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Simons begins "Master of War" telling us us that "No company has ever amassed Blackwater's size, strength, and full-service military capabilities . . . within a few short years it boasted more weaponry, manpower, and high-tech systems than many small countries." A good buildup, but the book fails to deliver any information of significance.

Erik Prince, its founder, grew up in a well-to-family (family business was sold for $1.35 billion after father died at an early age) with family friends that included Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, and James Dobson. Erik's was admitted to the Naval Academy, but left in his sophomore year because of "overly stringent rules," then enrolled in and graduated from Hillsdale College, became a White House Fellow, and ended up transferring to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's office. Prince became enamored with Navy OCS and becoming a Seal, which he accomplished. However, after about two years, Prince resigned at a time when his wife was battling cancer (eventually died) and his family was dealing with issues following his father's death.

Prince decided to focus on providing training facilities for Navy Seals that would be superior to what he had experienced. Soon was providing assistance training local law enforcement, then began picking up Navy contracts after getting on the approved contractor's list. (Prince was also a major Republican donor, though the book does not link those donations to favors received.) Eventually became a contractor providing security for Paul Bremer in Baghdad - State Dept. supposedly lacked the ability to do so in a combat zone. Prince's wealth also allowed the company to provide helicopters, according to Simons.

Blackwater became famous when four of its contractors were killed and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Larson on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
1) This book is a quick read that provides a very broad treatment of Erik Prince and his Company Blackwater. You read it because you have an interest in how someone lives their life and how they created a vision and then made it come to life.

2) I walked away with respect for Erik Prince. He worked hard to create a company and then even harder to make it profitable. Even if you don't like guns or war, you could just strip that away and see how management accomplished some pretty amazing things. Erik was driven and worked hard to surround himself with people who could get things done. I was impressed with his poise and how he continually had to prepare for testimony in front of Congress, while writing new contracts with other agency's.

3) I was frustrated with the agency's of the government. You have to do things their way, expect no support when things go wrong, and then they need you so much they can't fire you. How messed up is that.

4) I was also interested in the lack of overall control in Iraq, a lack of a fundamental message, no real strategy that I could figure out, and constant infighting. No wonder things did not go well.

5) After the Blackwater brand was damaged I understood the company name change. Google now says Prince has a personal net worth of $2.7 Billion. I doubt that is correct, but if it is in the ballpark he has done well.

6) This book is like a piece of cake. It looks good, is easy to digest, but the sugar high doesn't last long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Angus on May 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was recommended this book by a friend who is really into things like Tom Clancy which isn't my thing but i was pleasantly suprised.
Coming from New Zealand we get very little coverage of the way the wars in the middle east are fought or the politics behind the scenes so it was really interesting for me.
I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in politics or modern conflicts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Van Delden on February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I have been following the world of PSCs and especially Blackwater for years already and writing my master thesis about it, it was a nice insight from the opposite side to read what happened and why which decisions were taken. You have to be interested in this topic, but if you are: the book is a must! Do take care not to take everything for granted and read critical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Steiner on March 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the start of the book regarding Erik's drive and focus to create the company. Seemed to become a little dull during parts however finished quite well in outlining the companies slow down due to reputation and politics. Would recommend the read if you are wanting to understand more about Erik or Blackwater.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JetRanger3 on October 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I have a Blackwater sticker on the back window of my ford Explorer, and I have been to blackwater in Moyock. Plus I am a helicopter pilot. Reading this book makes me more proud of my sticker. CNN did Journalistic Malpractice. They just wanted to make George W, and Dick Cheney look bad. To date, there has been NO Trial. Nothing.
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