Thieves of Baghdad
Thieves of Baghdad
Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781582346458, 320pp.
Publication Date: October 26, 2005
He's a spit-and-polish Marine, a competitive boxer, a classics scholar, and an assistant DA in Manhattan. New York tabloids call him "pit bull" for his relentless prosecution of high-profile defendants like Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and the "baby-faced butchers" of Central Park. When Baghdad fell, Colonel Matthew Bogdanos was in southern Iraq, tracking down terrorist networks through their financing and weapons smuggling until he heard about the looting of the museum. Immediately setting out across the desert with an elite group chosen from his multiagency task force, he risked his career and his life in pursuit of Iraq's most priceless treasures.
"Thieves of Baghdad" takes you from his family's flight to safety at Ground Zero on 9/11, to his mission to hunt down al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, and into the war-torn streets of Baghdad on the trail of antiquities. Colorful characters and double-dealing are the norm as Bogdanos tries to sort out what really happened during the chaos of war. We see his team going on raids and negotiating recoveries, blowing open safes and mingling in the marketplaces, and tracking down leads from Zurich and Amman to Lyons, London, and New York. In an investigation that led to the recovery of more than 5,000 priceless objects, complex threads intertwine, and the suspense mounts as the team works to locate the most sensational treasure of all, the treasure of Nimrud, a collection of gold jewelry and precious stones often called "Iraq's Crown Jewels."
A mixture of police procedural, treasure hunt, wartime thriller, and cold-eyed assessment of the connection between the antiquities trade and weapons smuggling, "Thieves of Baghdad" exposes sordid truths about the international art and antiquities market. It also explores the soul of a man who is equal parts hardened Marine, dedicated father, and passionate scholar. Most of all, it demonstrates that, in a culture as old as that of the Middle East, nothing is ever quite what it seems.