From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This remarkable American story by Howard, executive editor of Bicycling
magazine, follows the long, shadowy trail of a single document, North Carolina's wayward copy of the Bill of Rights. With ratification of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution in 1789, 14 elegantly handwritten copies were drafted, one for each of the original states and one for the federal government. Seventy-six years later, at the end of the Civil War, it is believed a soldier with Sherman's army pilfered North Carolina's copy and carried it home to Ohio. The following year it ended up in the possession of Indiana businessman Charles Shotwell, who bought it for only $5. After 134 years in the Shotwell family's possession, the document in 2000 was purchased for $200,000 by a boastful Connecticut antique collector and an ethically dubious business partner, both hoping to sell it for millions. How the parchment ended up back in North Carolina state archives is an intricate tale involving high-powered antique dealers, businessmen, historians, manuscript experts, auction houses, elite attorneys, governors of three states, the FBI, a U.S. Attorney's office, and Philadelphia's National Constitution Center. The tale pulsates with dynamic personalities greatly affected by their connection to one of the rarest, most influential and valuable documents in American history. Howard has produced a marvelously compelling read. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“David Howard’s Lost Rights is an epic ride through American history, a colorful page-turner in which the hero is a 220-year-old piece of parchment coveted by an eccentric cast of fast-talking antiquarians and innocent patriots, nerdy record-keepers and special agents in a cinematic showdown. Howard goes deep, creating an astounding narrative weave that captures not just the strange journey of the Bill of Rights, but the modern-day country of hucksters and heroes it has wrought. A truly wonderful read!”
– Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert
"It would be difficult to find a more astonishing journey than the one David Howard traces in LOST RIGHTS. From a defeated and terrified Southern town at the end of the Civil War to a gleaming high rise in Philadelphia nearly 150 years later, Howard explains in riveting detail how one of our most treasured historical artifacts miraculously survived the avarice of men."
—Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt
"In this tour de force of antiquarian sleuthing, David Howard gamely follows a circuitous trail through distant centuries and rarefied subcultures. LOST RIGHTS not only entertains and enlightens us; it challenges our rockbed assumptions about what we think we have, and what we think we know."
—Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers
"LOST RIGHTS has it all—a historic heist, hidden treasure, deception, skullduggery, lawyers, guns, money, cheap picture frames and one very valuable piece of parchment. David Howard’s true-life tale of an original Bill of Rights stolen, lost, found and scammed reads like a thriller set backstage at Antiques Roadshow."
—Bruce Barcott, author of The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
"David Howard's LOST RIGHTS reveals—and untangles—a fascinating web of secrets and lies. At the story¹s heart lies nothing less than the best intentions and the worst impulses of all humanity. With his compelling narrative, larger-than-life characters, and sharp reporting, Howard lights the darkest corners of this twisted journey of one of America's most sacred relics."
—Susan Casey, author of The Devil's Teeth
“Here's a detective story of the ages, and for the ages. Dave Howard's investigation is almost as remarkable as the story it uncovers!”
—Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet