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Thieves of Baghdad Hardcover – October 26, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In April 2003, Matthew Bogdanos was a long way from the courtrooms of New York City where, as an assistant D.A., he prosecuted hundreds of cases. After September 11, 2001, this Marine Corps Reserve colonel, lawyer and student of ancient civilizations, returned to uniform full-time to head counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, where Bogdanos gave himself the mission of finding antiquities that had been stolen from the Iraq National Museum during the American invasion. Beginning with an Indiana Jones-like opening that finds him in the museum's bowels, Bogdanos chronicles a journey fueled by his passion for history and frustrated by erratic record-keeping and factionalism among Iraqis, not to mention the hazards of warfare. The son of Greek immigrants who went on to achieve advanced degrees in law and classical studies, Bogdanos weaves together a detective story, adventure yarn and history lesson, committing himself to the investigation of stolen artifacts and reflecting what he deems rumor and exaggeration among the media coverage and academics who claimed irrevocable archeological tragedy. Indeed, some pieces, he discovers, were moved and protected prior to the U.S. invasion, while others were housed by Iraqis for safekeeping until after the war. Bogdanos is a remarkable blend of warrior, academic and communicator, and he cuts through politics and hyperbole to tell an engrossing story abundant with history, colored by stories of brave Iraqis and Americans, and shaded with hope for the future.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–A riveting, dramatically paced tale. Returning to active military duty after 9/11 to serve in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Bogdanos was involved with counterterrorism units prior to being selected to head an unprecedented multiagency team tasked with tracking down and safeguarding stolen antiquities. His infantry training, profession as a lawyer (he earned the nickname Pit Bull in the Manhattan DAs office), and advanced degree in the classics qualified him to lead a team of trigger pullers, analysts, translators, and techies through the museums 11-acre complex of buildings and storerooms. Working with staff who lacked even an approximate inventory, his group pursued its mission within a hostile landscape embroiled in the chaos of modern warfare. There is YA appeal in the books forensic themes and crime-scene analysis, a compelling urgency to the band-of-brothers teamwork within the tightly knit task force, and much to relish in vivid passages devoted to the artistic and cultural heritage of Mesopotamia. With refreshing candor, Bogdanos appraises the difficulties of diplomacy, intelligence gathering, and dealing with the media in a combat zone, and assesses formidable obstacles to international prosecution of illicit cross-border trafficking. Quotations from Greek, Latin, and German philosophers and English literature add linguistic appeal. Sixteen pages of color photos lend depth to readers sense of the artwork and destruction at the museum and complement the strong personalities described in the narrative.–Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (October 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582346453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582346458
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,214,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Matthew Bogdanos' story of the lost antiquities of the Bahgdad Museum is a fascinating and informative account of his experiences with an interagency counterterrorism unit following 9/11. However, its not just about Bahgdad, as he tells us about the challenges he faces growing up in downtown New York, his roots in Greek and Middle Eastern classics, etc. In fact, despite the extraordinary depth of his knowledge of classic literature, arts, and history, there is a certain air of self-promotion throughout the book that the reader just can't overlook. Nonetheless, I found Bogdanos' writing to be sophisticated and interesting and I felt that I finished his book with a better understanding of U.S. efforts to help the Iraqi people help themselves (despite the efforts of their fellow Iraqi's to sell their own heritage to the highest bidders). The beautiful photos add great depth to Bogdanos' account and spark the reader's interest in the history and art of the region. Enjoy this highly unusual account of one man's war time experiences.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be absolutely riveting. I took it on a business trip, and couldn't put it down! This book gives you and up close and detailed look at the team assembled to investigate and recover antiquities stolen from the museum in Baghdad. I found it refreshing to read an account written by the head of the team, who could capably give an accurate account. Too often, authors who "weren't there" write books based solely upon the accounts of others. That certainly isn't the case here. You won't be disappointed!
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Matthew Bogdanos' Thieves of Baghdad is an interesting novel of the robbings of museums in Iraq. His story keeps the reader interested in seeing the other side of the war in Iraq, that being what happened to the history of Iraq. Bogdanos takes us in to the museums and shows us what happened with looters, professional thieves and a misguided media trying to report what had happened.

When you think of war, you rarely think of robberies as being able to tell part of the story. Bogdanos makes a compelling argument of the importance of a country's history and artifacts in helping a country rebuild its identity. He takes in to these museums as they try and retrace what happened and what was stolen (often hard to tell due to poor record keeping) and who would have stolen it. Though normal citizens often did some of the stealing, Bogdanos shows how he was able to determine that many of these robberies were either inside jobs or by professional thieves.

He tells of stories of how the media was quick to jump on stories with grossly inaccurate numbers of some of the robberies (media reported over 100K artifacts stolen when that numbers was grossly inflated by tens of thousands) due to incompetence or another agenda. He tells of stories of mistrust between museum bureaucrats and the US marines that were trying to help them get their artifacts back. Compelling stuff.

The story though often gets bogged down by Bodanos and his need to 'boast.' He makes it clear throughout that he is telling the story of the marines and the good work that they did and that this was not a story about himself, but disproves that argument by his countless references to how much people appreciated him and his commitment to serve his country and risk his life to help the Iraq community.
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Format: Paperback
Excellent book! An interesting read for anyone who wants to understand other facets of what our troops encounter while deployed. JD
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by a lecturer on a cruise. It is a narrow but interesting topic. We all know about the looting of the Baghdad museum at the time of the U.S. invasion. A prosecuting attorney who holds a reserve commission as a U.S. Marine what assigned other responsibilities but backed into the investigating of the crime. It is very interesting learning about the staff and the investigation. The story still has much that is unsolved but much more was accomplished than I realized. This is a very interesting read.
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Format: Hardcover
Colonel Bogdanos is a warrior, a police officer and a historian all in one. He is the real life incarnation of Jack Ryan. "The Thieves of Baghdad" reads like a novel, however, it gives us a glimpse of the life of a true hero. If you want to know how it felt to be there, read this book. Bogdanos is what I call "Good People".

Ed d'Alessandro

NYPD Emergency Service Unit, Retired
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Format: Paperback
Bogdanos in this autobiography indicates that he is a short, NY, son of immigrants, parent, military guy lawyer with 3 brothers. The military gave him an outlet for a lot of smarts, energy, strength, leadership, ego and aggression. He found an effective way to channel those personality characteristics. He is very well aware that they can rub people wrong.

The biography moves at a quick clip, thank goodness. My original intent on reading it was a suspicion that his book was the catalyst for ISIS smashing of antiquities in 2015. World press collectively being upset over the originally over-estimated yet still significant Iraq Museum looting gave ISIS the destruction of antiquities idea. Bogdano's autobiography is the background work to verify the numbers, figure out the time line of what happened, the locations of antiquities and gather as many as possible back for the Iraqi people.

I thought about the Greek Classics quotes that were a source of entertainment and sometimes inspiration to his peers, appreciated his putting together and managing a team to recover Iraq's artifacts, without offending everyone he worked with. What a relentless wheeler dealer he is (when one doctor fails his medical test because of a minor medical problem he isn't about to let the rest of the military in on, he goes down the hall to someone who will pass him and tears up the first results). When supplies are short he finds a Marine who will turn his back while Bogdanos and crew stock needed food and munitions. I suspected the first chapter of being his ploy to get past the military censors by making them think the book is all about antiquities and his Classics degree. yawn. Put the censors to sleep and then act.
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