WHEN THE PENTAGON WAS FOR SALE by Andy Pasztor

WHEN THE PENTAGON WAS FOR SALE

Inside America's Biggest Defense Scandal

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An eye-opening, detailed rundown of the culture of deceit and corruption among many of those involved in weapons purchases during the Reagan administration. The Pentagon may not have been for sale, but Wall Street Journal staff writer Pasztor makes a strong case that some of the top Reagan administration Department of Defense officialsincluding Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and Navy Secretary John Lehmanpresided over a free-spending climate that led to the largest weapons procurement scandals in the nation's history. Pasztor had an excellent view of the situation when he covered acquisitions issues at the Pentagon during the Reagan years; he wrote hundreds of articles about ``assorted scams to cheat the armed services.'' In putting together his name-naming book, Pasztor supplemented his insider's knowledge with interviews and a mountain of documents. The result is a smoothly written, reportorial look at out-of-control military spending and the illegal actions of scores of government officials, defense industry executives, and freewheeling freelance consultants. (Ninety individuals and corporations were eventually convicted of felonies.) The main villains are two men who went to jail for their crimes, former Navy Assistant Secretary Melvin Paisley and defense consultant Bill Galvin. The heroes are a group of federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and Naval Investigative Service agents who spent years uncovering wide-ranging procurement scandals that were concentrated in the Navy Department. Pasztor tells this story well, mixing details of the players' often colorful personal lives with analyses of their professional misdeeds, such as sharing inside information that would allow certain companies an edge in getting government contracts. The long narrative flows, and although Pasztor sometimes uses clichÇs, this is a minor glitch in a thoroughly researched, otherwise successful account. Tarnishes the golden image of the highly trumpeted Reagan defense buildup. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to the Wall Street Journal; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-19516-X
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1995




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