Thieves of Baghdad author Matthew Bogdanos lectured and signed books at SAFE events from San Francisco…

to New York City

On January 23, over 150 people came to the U.C. Berkeley campus to hear Matthew Bogdanos, a colonel in the Marine reserves and a NY homicide prosecutor with an academic background in the classics, detail his efforts to save antiquities looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003.

San Francisco-based SAFE members Claudia Brose and Stephanie Dodaro worked closely with U.C. Berkeley Professor Marian Feldman* to produce a lecture, book signing, and reception featuring Colonel Bogdanos, author of the recent Thieves of Baghdad. Thanks to the team’s outreach, the crowd was filled with archaeologists, students, and citizens alike.

After Professor Feldman welcomed the audience, Stephanie Dodaro made a brief presentation about SAFE’s goals and programs. Then Bogdanos kept the audience rapt with an impassioned account of his work in Iraq, illustrated with personal photos of the mission. He discussed the global illicit antiquities trade and the devastating effect of looting on archaeological sites, as well the lackluster international response. He also made a strong case for a concerted international effort to stop the illicit antiquities trade.

The guests continued the lively discussion at the reception, over wine, cheese, and olives. Bogdanos busily signed books and answered questions. Many attendees were inspired to save looted antiquities and visited the SAFE table, wanting to know what they could do to help. The SAFE team detailed SAFE’s programs and membership options, made some good connections, and even recruited new members.

A special thank you to Professor Feldman for graciously agreeing to host the lecture and for all her hard work to make it happen. Thanks also to all those who made a contribution to the lecture and SAFE, as well as the Berkeley students who volunteered to help at the event. And a warm welcome to our new members!

SAFE looks forward to many more West Coast events to come!

*The event co-sponsors were SAFE, the U.C. Berkeley Near Eastern Studies Department, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Townsend Center for the Humanities and Bloomsbury Publishing.

Thieves of Baghdad
Excellent book! An interesting read for anyone who wants to understand other facets of what our troops encounter while deployed.JD

About Thieves of Baghdad and Matthew Bogdanos

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 multi-agency 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.

Matthew Bogdanos has been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan since 1988. A colonel in the Marine Reserves, middleweight boxer, and native New Yorker, he holds a degree in classics from Bucknell University, a law degree and a master’s degree in Classical Studies from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. Recalled to active duty after September 11, 2001, he received a Bronze Star for counter terrorist operations in Afghanistan, and then served two tours in Iraq. Released back into the Reserves in October 2005, he plans to return to the DA’s Office to head up New York’s first antiquities task force.

William Patrick is the author of Blood Winter, which the Wall Street Journal likened to “the fresh early best of Graham Greene and John le Carré.”


Monday January 23, 2006
Book signing and lecture
145 Dwinelle Hall, U.C. Berkeley
Berkeley, California and New York, New York

Tuesday February 28, 2006
Wollman Auditorium
The Cooper Union, 51 Astor Place
8th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, New York, NY
6:30 pm