“A detailed accounting of all of Lockheed Martin’s government contracts could fill several large volumes,” writes William Hartung, in his new book Prophets of War, a history of the nation’s largest defense contractor. “Suffice it to say that they are involved at one level or another in nearly everything the federal government does, from providing instruments of death and destruction to collecting taxes and recruiting spies.”

For those who have followed the defense industry for years, that statement is no revelation, but for the vast majority of the American public, the notion that the maker of the radar-evading F-22 Raptor aircraft has also been involved in sorting the mail is both surprising, and important.