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Saddam's Bombmaker


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Table of Contents



1. Escape

2. Roots in the Sand

3. Going Home

4. The Secret

5. The Life of the Party

6. Crunch Time

7. Accidents Will Happen

8. Spies and Lies

9. The Inside Game

10. The Invisible Empire

11. Getting the Goods

12. The Winds of War

13. Aftermath

14. The Fugitive

15. In from the Cold

Epilogue: End Game

Appendix: Behind the Scenes with the Iraqi Nuclear Bomb


About the Author

Khidhir Hamza, a graduate M.I.T and Florida State University, is a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Science and International Security and a consultant for the US Department of Energy. In 1971, he was forced by Saddam Hussein to head Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.


"Behind every closed door in Baghdad is a scientist or an official who would like to leave," writes Hamza, the former head of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's nuclear program, who defected in 1994Dand was initially dismissed by the CIA as an alarmist; to this day, he remains the only member of Saddam's inner circle to escape and survive. Early in his career, Hamza believed the bomb would serve only as "diplomatic leverage" and would never be completed, much less used. However, as Saddam gained greater control, the nuclear program became his obsession and he appointed Hamza as his right-hand man. Hamza's keen sense of pacing (balancing personal memoir with political history) and his clear and vivid writing serve to indict Iraq under Saddam, painting a detailed and convincing portrait of what it's like to live in a country under a violent dictator where there is no viable opposition or independent judiciary. In the West, Saddam became synonymous with terror only after his invasion of Kuwait, but for Iraqis that terror began far earlier. Hamza recalls colleagues who were tortured and killed, and doctors weeping as they told him of being forced to watch the killings of Shiites, whom Saddam feared politically, or the gassing of Kurds, designed both to eliminate this minority and to test biological weapons. Agent, Gail Ross. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

In 1994, Hamza, who was head of Iraq's atomic bomb project, returned to the United States, where he had received his graduate degrees. He had worked on problems of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes for 20 years before being transferred to the weapons program. Much of his work involved buying dual-use technology abroad from companies willing to look the other way when given weak cover stories. His increasing responsibilities provided a very comfortable life as long as he cooperated with the regime's wishes, although the threat of retaliation if he did not was never far away. Once he left Iraq, Hamza startled Western intelligence agencies with allegations that in 1990 Iraq had been much closer to a working bomb than they had believed and that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons stockpiled as well. In this recapitulation of his allegations, Hamza does not discuss his reasons for leaving Iraq and touches on the Desert Storm years only briefly. Although written in a popular style, with almost no technical details of the bombs, this title will appeal mostly to knowledgeable readers.DMarcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Barbara Crossette The New York Times Book Review Gripping and unsettling...the rare account of the life of the privileged in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
William E. Odom The Washington Post Written in an easy journalistic style...not only stranger but frequently bloodier than fiction.
John Dinges author of Assassination on Embassy Row A true spy adventure that rivals The Great Escape. The story of one man's terrible secret, his conscience, and his drive to avert what would have been one of the century's epic crimes.
Publishers Weekly, starred review Hamza indicts Iraq under Saddam, painting a detailed and convincing portrait of what it's like to live in a country under a violent dictator. Of the broadest interest to a wide spectrum of readers concerned about the fate of the world in the nuclear age.

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