All new Linfield students participate in the Common Read program by reading a common text. This year's selection is Thieves of Baghdad by Matthew Bogdanos. The Common Read program also kicks-off the 2013 - 2014 Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement (PLACE) program and its theme "Legacies of War." The Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement (PLACE) is entering the second year of its pilot phase. Its goal is to build on the Linfield Curriculum to encourage the free exchange of ideas across disciplines, promote active forms of citizenship, and pique intellectual curiosity through the exploration of thematic connections among modes of thinking and inquiry.
The 2013-2014 PLACE program seeks to create a common space within the Linfield community to discuss the causes, consequences, and legacies of war from a variety of perspectives, with a particular emphasis on the Vital Past (VP) and Global Pluralism (GP) modes of inquiry in the Linfield Curriculum.
A copy of the book is included in your Orientation packet. Plan to read the book over the summer and arrive on campus prepared to discuss it in your Colloquium class. Read on for more information about Thieves of Baghdad and the Summer Common Reading Essay Contest.
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.
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 counterterrorist operations in Afghanistan, and then served two tours in Iraq. Released back into the reserves in October 2005, he returned to the DA's Office and continues the hunt for stolen antiquities.
Matthew Bogdanos will give the keynote address at Convocation during Orientation Weekend.
Submit your contest entry by August 16 to compete for the following prizes:
First place: Free books for your first semester classes
Second place: $250 gift certificate at the college bookstore
Third place: $150 gift certificate at the college bookstore
In Thieves of Baghdad, Matthew Bogdanos tells of his courageous commitment to recover Iraq's cultural treasures looted from the Iraq Museum in the chaotic days following the U.S.-led invasion to capture Baghdad from Saddam Hussein's government. During four tense days (from April 8-12, 2003), looters carried off tens of thousands of artifacts and artworks that are revered around the world as essential objects that help tell a story regarding the development of some of the earliest human civilizations. Bogdanos recounts a methodical and dangerous effort to find and return as many of the looted items as possible. In doing so, he routinely quotes numerous historical figures from Greek philosophers to present-day archeologists. At one point, he quotes from T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars: "Nine tenths of tactics were certain enough to be teachable in schools, but the irrational tenth was like the Kingfisher flashing across the pool. And it lay in the test of generals. It could be pursued only by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke, until at crisis it came naturally, a reflex" (p. 76).
In the book, Bogdanos gives several examples of his own indulgence in the "irrational tenth" that may have not been prudent at the time but did lead, later on, to valuable intelligence or opportunity. What does the "irrational tenth" mean to you? Give an example in which you have indulged the "irrational tenth" in your life and compare it to Bogdanos' own approach to solving problems. Or, conversely, discuss why indulging the "irrational tenth" is, in your opinion, too dangerous to exercise, regardless of the potential reward. How does the "irrational tenth" potentially lead to useful knowledge? And, if you believe that it does not, why is the "irrational tenth" detrimental to one's growth as an educated citizen of the world?
Essays will be evaluated using the following criteria: The Author...
defined and discussed the significance and/or danger of the "irrational tenth".
included examples to support one or more positions, or arguments.
considered both the advantages and/or disadvantages of indulging the "irrational tenth".
discussed possible outcomes and implications to the question(s).
800 - 1000 words
Include your name, faculty and peer advisor name and email on your essay entry.
Be sure to include appropriate citations as necessary (citations are not required).
Prompt written by Dr. Brian Winkenweder