From 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.)
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Hartung, a frequent commentator on the relationship between government and military contractors, takes readers through the history of Lockheed Martin, a company that began humbly in 1916 and has become a “mega-firm” whose ties to the U.S. government are, at least as presented here, at best ominous and at worst downright frightening. The author, who directs the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative, sounds like he has a whole arsenal of axes to grind. In his view, the story of Lockheed Martin is a story of shady foreign deals, influence peddling, massive cost overruns, price irregularities, conspiracy, bribery, and shoddy workmanship. He has very little that is approving to say about the company (which, to be sure, is a highly influential and powerful weapons maker), and some readers might wonder if there is perhaps more to the story—a more balanced version—that Hartung isn’t telling. But he argues his case forcefully, and while the book is clearly written from a specific political point of view, it undeniably provides much food for thought. --David Pitt