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Founded in 1997 as a training facility for military and police, Blackwater grew under the guidance of former CEO and founder Erik Prince into one of the most respected and the most infamous military contractors, and whose work for the CIA, State Department, and Department of Defense, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has received unparalleled public scrutiny.

It was partly Prince’s time in the Navy SEALs—and its lack of dedicated training facilities—that led him to found Blackwater. Staffed with seasoned ex-military and firearm experts, Blackwater initially intended to provide training support to military and law enforcement officers. After serving SEAL and SWAT teams, Blackwater received its first government contract following the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor by two al-Qaeda operatives. The U.S. government later hired Blackwater to provide security services during the invasion of Afghanistan, and to guard officials and installations during the Iraq War, to train Iraq's new army and police, and to provide other support for coalition forces.

In his book, Civilian Warriors, Prince writes candidly about Blackwater for the first time. He discusses:

  • The government bidding process and the truth about the how an overwhelming percentage of Blackwater’s contracts were competitively won.
  • Blackwater’s State Department-sanctioned operational tactics in Iraq.
  • Mercernarism, the legal oversight for contactors, and Paul Bremer’s controversial Order 17.
  • Blackwater’s hiring and firing practices, including an inside look at the terms of the company’s service agreement for contractors.
  • The brutal murder of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, which spurred the Marines’ largest urban battle since Hue City, Vietnam.
  • The historic, tumultuous firefight in Najaf, when, for the first time, contractors were in command of active military members—a disquieting moment that rattled throughout the Pentagon.
  • His 2007 appearance before Congress.

Come hear Erik Prince tell about the inside story of Blackwater and the stories of the unsung heroes of the War on Terror at Acton Institute!

Erik Prince a former Navy SEAL, founded Blackwater in 1997. He served as its CEO until 2009 and its chairman until 2010, when the company was sold. A native of Michigan, he now splits his time between homes in Virginia and Abu Dhabi, where he pursues a variety of business ventures.

Buy a copy of Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror on Amazon.

Event Details

Start Date

This event is SOLD OUT. To be added to our waiting list, please contact John Morton at or call 616.454.3080 for more information.


6:00 pm--Registration and Reception. Appetizers and cash bar available.
7:00 pm-- Discussion and Q & A with Erik Prince.
8:15 pm--Book Signing with Erik Prince. Light desserts and coffee will be available.

Private - RSVP Event. Invitation is not transferable to the public.

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