Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War

Erik Prince didn?t have to go into the military at all, but he?s ended up as the leader of America?s shadow army, Xe (formerly known as Blackwater). CNN executive producer Suzanne Simons? detailed new book, Master of War, chronicles the story of the 40-year-old Navy SEAL who left the military after his entrepreneurial father (who made the family a boatload by inventing automobile sun visors that light up) died and his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Prince took his inheritance and started Blackwater in 1997 to simply provide training sites for law enforcement and the U.S. military. Instead, he?s frighteningly changed the nature of war. Simons traces the company?s dramatic growth and changing mission, as well as the rise of the billion-dollar military-contracting business that Blackwater has come to represent. The government can now outsource many of its nastier military assignments to a once virtually unchecked band of well-armed former cops and soldiers from across the globe. Prince, who recently stepped down as CEO of the company, ran Blackwater with the same industrious zeal his father embodied: ?The lion wakes up in the morning, he knows he has to outrun the gazelle, or he?s gonna starve,? Prince says in the book. ?The gazelle wakes up and knows he has to outrun the lion, or he?s gonna be eaten.? Whether you?re the lion or the gazelle, when you wake up, you?d better be running.? All that running and explosive growth can get you in some trouble, though. In the past few years, Blackwater has brought the U.S. some controversial black eyes in Afghanistan and Iraq and has become a symbol of the gunslinging, tough-talking Bush administration. While the world is changing, the outsourced military isn?t going away anytime soon. Simons? book offers a tremendously important look into the hidden corners of that world.

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.