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Suzanne Kelly Simons is an Executive Producer at CNN based in Atlanta. She has also worked as a freelance anchor for CNN International since 1988 in both Berlin and Atlanta. She was a freelance foreign correspondent in Germany and covered the Kosovo conflict from Macedonia and Kosovo in 1999.
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 2009 Reed Business Information.