Summary of Prophets of War

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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.

About the Author

William Hartung, Director of Arms and Security Initiatives at the New America Freedom Foundation, has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.



Soaring in California

In 1916, shortly after Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first flight, brothers Allan and Malcolm Loughead (pronounced “Lockheed”) of Burbank, California, started the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company.

The brothers – who had minimal educations – first became interested in aviation in 1905 at ages 16 and 18, when their half brother Victor took them to see gliders soaring over Santa Clara, California. Allan, who learned to fly a Curtiss biplane, became a county-fair pilot. When he crashed in 1911, he promised his wife that he would end his barnstorming career. Nonetheless, in 1913, at a cost of $4,000, Allan and Malcolm launched their first plane for a test flight over San Francisco Bay, reaching a top speed of 63 miles per hour. When the plane crashed, their main investor impounded it. By 1915, they were back in business, giving air rides at the Pacific-Panama Exposition. They made a profit, turned their attention to selling their “flying boat” to the US Navy and launched their manufacturing company in 1916. Recognizing their limited staff and capital, they hired Jack Northrup, a self-taught engineer, who formalized their design process. By 1918...

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