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Book cover of The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind

The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind

by Kurt Pitzer, Mahdi Obeidi

Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Pages: 256
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780471679653






Available to Buy

Overview of The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind

No one knows more about Iraq's nuclear weapons program than Mahdi Obeidi, the man who headed its successful uranium enrichment effort. In the immediate, chaotic aftermath of the 2003 war in Iraq, Obeidi contacted the arms inspectors he had been forced to lie to for so many years, and voluntarily turned over the key plans and parts to U.S. intelligence. Among the revelations reported by the international media at the time: In the early 1990s, under orders to hide the core of the program from UN weapons inspectors, Obeidi had buried in his backyard garden the critical elements necessary to build uranium-enriching gas centrifuges. What he turned over to U.S. intelligence in the summer of 2003 proved to be the entire remains of a program put on hold since the last Gulf War. Now, at last, Obeidi tells all, taking us inside Saddam's regime and revealing the truth about its quest for nuclear weapons. He captures in detail what life was like directly under Saddam's watchful eye - the intimidation, the paranoia, the impossible deadlines.

Synopsis of The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind

No one knows more about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program than Mahdi Obeidi, the man who headed its successful uranium enrichment effort. In the immediate, chaotic aftermath of the 2003 war in Iraq, Obeidi contacted the arms inspectors he had been forced to lie to for so many years, and voluntarily turned over the key plans and parts to U.S. intelligence. Among the revelations reported by the international media at the time: In the early 1990s, under orders to hide the core of the program from UN weapons inspectors, Obeidi had buried in his backyard garden the critical elements necessary to build uranium-enriching gas centrifuges. What he turned over to U.S. intelligence in the summer of 2003 proved to be the entire remains of a program put on hold since the last Gulf War. Now, at last, Obeidi tells all, taking us inside Saddam’s regime and revealing the truth about its quest for nuclear weapons. He captures in nail-biting detail what life was like directly under Saddam’s watchful eye–the intimidation, the paranoia, the impossible deadlines.

In The Bomb in My Garden, Dr. Obeidi reveals how he circumvented the international safeguards specifically intended to bar developing nations from obtaining the knowledge and materials needed to build nuclear weapons. He recounts his many "shopping trips" abroad, during which he inveigled, bribed, and cajoled scientists and engineers at companies throughout the United States and Europe into assisting him. And he details the complex system of front companies and financial institutions he used to pull it all off.

Dr. Obeidi also provides an intimate portrait of unrealized promise and a nation’s decline into madness. In relating his transformation from an idealistic young engineer into a tyrant’s reluctant cat’s-paw, Dr. Obeidi offers a rare glimpse into the workings of Saddam’s inner circle. In chilling detail, he describes the fever dream of intimidation, paranoia, and absurd demands that characterized his years under the thumb of Saddam’s sociopathic son-in-law Hussein Kamel. And he describes the bittersweet sense of triumph he and his team experienced on achieving in a matter of months what, by all objective standards, was a technical near-impossibility.

Written with the pace and drama of a spy thriller, this eye-opening account will serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. At the same time, it provides a powerful reminder of how what is best in a nation and its citizens can become hopelessly perverted when the reins of power are left too long in the hands of self-serving and unscrupulous leaders.

The New York Times - Jacob Heilbrunn

[Obeidi's] memoir is not an instructive guide to Iraq's quest for the bomb. It is an indispensable one. Expertly organized and packed with telling vignettes, it is never less than riveting. Not a member of Hussein's camarilla but in close contact with it, Obeidi draws on his experiences to depict a regime that became the premier consumer of its own propaganda.

About the Author, Kurt Pitzer

MAHDI OBEIDI oversaw Saddam’s top-secret centrifuge program and later became director-general of Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization. The few remaining components and plans for the uranium enriching centrifuge that he voluntarily turned over to the United States during the war still represent the largest collection of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

KURT PITZER began the Iraq war embedded with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and jumped his embed when Baghdad fell. He met Obeidi there and helped him turn his secrets over to the United States. A journalist with more than a decade’s experience, he has reported from the Balkans, the Middle East, and Afghanistan for the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and numerous magazines.

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Editorials

Jacob Heilbrunn

[Obeidi's] memoir is not an instructive guide to Iraq's quest for the bomb. It is an indispensable one. Expertly organized and packed with telling vignettes, it is never less than riveting. Not a member of Hussein's camarilla but in close contact with it, Obeidi draws on his experiences to depict a regime that became the premier consumer of its own propaganda.
— The New York Times

Michael Dobbs

The result offers insights into how a determined dictator, backed by sufficient resources, can come within reach of acquiring the world's most horrific weapons. It is a tale of cruelty and ruthlessness on the part of Hussein but also of naiveté and greed on the part of Western scientists who enabled Iraq to take shortcuts toward becoming a nuclear power.
— The Washington Post

Publishers Weekly

This compact and absorbing book reads like a thriller and adds considerably to our knowledge of the Iraq WMD situation. Obeidi was a trained engineer in the Iraqi oil industry, but his brilliant record led to his transfer to the nuclear weapons program. After the bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor by Israel in 1981, he spearheaded the search for a working centrifuge as the best method of enriching fissionable material for a bomb. That work also involved him in a number of situations worthy of James Bond, as he sought classified knowledge and key components all over the world, under surveillance from both Saddam Hussein (and Saddam's son-in-law, the vividly portrayed Hussein Kamel) and foreign intelligence agencies. The author finally buried most of the relevant data, drawings and sample components in his backyard and turned them over to Coalition forces before emigrating to the United States. Pitzer was embedded for U.S. News & World Report with the army's 3rd Infantry, but left them as Baghdad fell, met Obeidi and played a role in the transfer of the documents. Together, they have produced an eloquent tale of a scientist who spent 20 years in a "damned if I do and damned if I don't situation" and survived with family and sanity intact. (Sept. 24) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

From the Publisher

“…explosive…” (The Independent Magazine, Saturday 5th November 2005)

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