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Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic Paperback – June 8, 2011
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“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
About the Author
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.
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This is the story of one of the fourteen original Bill of Rights. There was one made for each of the thirteen colonies and one for the federal government. The one for North Carolina was apparently stolen during the sacking of Raleigh at the end of the Civil War and was discovered/revealed decades later in Indianapolis hanging on the wall of a modest home. Let the bidding begin! But, who owns it? The homeowner from Indianapolis or the State of North Carolina? Or is it really the missing document from another state?
A cast of characters-both villains and heroes-inhabit these pages and are fit for any Hollywood screen. The convoluted workings of tracing the who/where/what and why of this is so interesting and underling it all is patriotism and greed. I love how a story such as this is so full of scandal and intrigue. So much fuss for such a tiny scrap of paper! This was a very interesting read with a very sobering ending. I have definitely never read a book like this one. If you like mysteries from history, be sure to check it out!
I recently read Wittman's book "Priceless" about his career in the FBI specializing in stolen art objects and his account of his part in recovering this Bill of Rights dovetails with Howard's though Howard's is far more detailed.
It was enjoyable. Although historically accurate - not an essential piece of American history.