The Hunt for History: On the Trail of the World's Lost Treasures-from the Letters of Lincoln, Churchill, and Einstein to the Secret Recordings Onboard JFK's Air Force One

The Hunt for History: On the Trail of the World's Lost Treasures-from the Letters of Lincoln, Churchill, and Einstein to the Secret Recordings Onboard JFK's Air Force One

by Nathan Raab, Luke Barr


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Nathan Raab, America’s preeminent rare documents dealer, delivers a “diverting account of treasure hunting in the fast lane” (The Wall Street Journal) that recounts his years as the Sherlock Holmes of historical artifacts, questing after precious finds and determining their authenticity.

A box uncovered in a Maine attic with twenty letters written by Alexander Hamilton; a handheld address to Congress by President George Washington; a long-lost Gold Medal that belonged to an American President; a note that Winston Churchill wrote to his captor when he was a young POW in South Africa; paperwork signed and filled out by Amelia Earhart when she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic; an American flag carried to the moon and back by Neil Armstrong; an unpublished letter written by Albert Einstein, discussing his theory of relativity.

Each day, people from all over the world contact Nathan Raab for help understanding what they have, what it might be worth, and how to sell it. The Raab Collection’s president, Nathan is a modern-day treasure hunter and one of the world’s most prominent dealers of historical artifacts. Most weeks, he travels the country, scours auctions, or fields phone calls and emails from people who think they may have found something of note in a grandparent’s attic.

In The Hunt for History, “Raab takes us on a wild hunt and deliciously opens up numerous hidden crevices of history” (Jay Winik, author of April 1865)—spotting a letter from British officials that secured the Rosetta Stone; discovering a piece of the first electric cable laid by Edison; restoring a fragmented letter from Andrew Jackson that led to the infamous Trail of Tears; and locating copies of missing audio that had been recorded on Air Force One as the plane brought JFK’s body back to Washington. Whether it’s the first report of Napoleon’s death or an unpublished letter penned by Albert Einstein to a curious soldier, every document and artifact Raab uncovers comes with a spellbinding story—and often offers new insights into a life we thought we knew.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501198915
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 03/09/2021
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 496,433
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Nathan Raab is one of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected experts in historical documents. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and he frequently writes a column, “Historically Speaking,” for The author of The Hunt for History, he lives with his family in Pennsylvania.

Luke Barr is the author of Ritz & Escoffier and the New York Times bestseller Provence, 1970. The former features editor at Travel + Leisure, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two daughters.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I Apprentice

1 Early Days: Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt 1

2 Lessons from My Father 13

3 What Is It Worth? 27

4 The Gold Medal, the Top Hat, and the Martini Shaker 39

5 The Auction Game 57

6 The Art of the Fake 71

7 The Real Ronald Reagan 81

Part II The Hunt

8 The Mystery of the Washington Survey 89

9 Taking the Reins 103

10 The Report of the Death of Napoléon 113

11 Provenance, or Where's This Stuff Been Hiding? 123

12 Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein 135

13 "I Know You Think Women Are the Pets of Society" 145

14 Thomas Jefferson's Library 155

15 The JFK Tapes 165

Part III The Meaning of History

16 The Legacy of MLK 181

17 Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears 195

18 Smuggled Out of Nazi Germany 207

19 Vein of Gold 225

Epilogue 233

Acknowledgments 237

Index 239

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