BULL'S EYE: The Assassination and Life of Supergun Inventor Gerald Bull by James Adams

BULL'S EYE: The Assassination and Life of Supergun Inventor Gerald Bull

Email this review


A stranger-than-fiction briefing on the lawless career of an eminent, if erratic, artillery scientist whose violent death at 62 in 1990 rocked the armament trade's shadowy world. Drawing on information from family, friends, business associates, and his own contacts, plus documentary sources, London journalist Adams (Engines of War, 1990, etc.) compiles a detailed dossier on Gerald Bull. A naturalized American citizen born in Canada, the precocious Bull earned a Ph.D. in aerodynamics at Toronto University. As the youngest tenured member of McGill's engineering faculty, he headed HARP (High Altitude Research Project), a binational inquiry into the possibility of using long-barreled guns rather than rockets to launch satellites. Embittered when government funding ended the program, Bull formed Space Research Corp. and began peddling his ballistics expertise in offshore markets. South Africa (then an international pariah because of apartheid) quickly became an SRC client. This illicit commercial relationship (facilitated by Israel and the CIA) put the inventive genius in violation of US embargo law, and he served time in a Club Fed. Once out of prison, Bull moved a new SRC operation to Brussels, where he toiled in relative obscurity for mainland China. In time, his ordnance talents attracted the attention of Saddam Hussein. Bull furnished Baghdad with a wealth of innovative projectiles and howitzers; at the time of his murder, he was working on a supergun that, in theory, could bombard objectives thousands of miles down range and/or boost spacecraft with reconnaissance capabilities into earth orbits. Adams makes a fine job of accounting for the character quirks and socioeconomic forces that turned an enthusiastic, essentially apolitical boffin into a cynical supplier of advanced weapons systems--and into the target of assassins. Having reviewed such circumstantial evidence as is available, moreover, he concludes that the hit men who killed Bull at the door of his Brussels apartment most likely were Israelis. An engrossing tale of geopolitical intrigue and treachery.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Times Books