The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic
By David Howard
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618826070, 352pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
List Price: $26.00*
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Near the close of the Civil War, as General Sherman blazed his path to the sea, an unknown infantryman rifled through the North Carolina state house.The soldier was hunting for simple Confederate mementos—maps, flags, official correspondence—but he wound up discovering something far more valuable. He headed home to Ohio with one of the touchstones of our republic: one of the fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights.
Lost Rights follows that document’s singular passage over the course of 138 years, beginning with the Indiana businessman who purchased the looted parchment for five dollars, then wending its way through the exclusive and shadowy world of high-end antiquities—a world populated by obsessive archivists, oddball collectors, forgers, and thieves— and ending dramatically with the FBI sting that brought the parchment back into the hands of the government.
For fans of The Billionaire’s Vinegar and The Lost Painting, Lost Rights is “a tour de force of antiquarian sleuthing” (Hampton Sides).
DAVID HOWARD is a freelance journalist and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Backpacker, Outside, Men's Journal, and other publications. He is the executive editor of Bicycling.