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Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Hunt for History by Nathan Raab

The history geek in me saw this come through the library and I just had to check it out. It was a very interesting look at history through the lens of written documents--some hidden for hundreds of years. 

Nathan Raab, along with his wife, father, and mother, runs a very successful business buying and selling historical documents. What started out as a hobby of his father turned into a home business, and eventually became a career. Nathan spends time talking about how he learned everything he needed to know to authenticate, research, and obtain historical documents from private owners and auctions. As with most skills, his developed over time, and he began to pay attention to his gut feelings. If something, at first glance, just didn't seem right, he was usually correct when he investigated later and found the document to be a forgery. With a combination of innate skills and years of honing his research skills, Nathan has been witness to many amazing documents. Documents that speak to the history of our country, and also documents that reach around the world. He speaks with never ending amazement to the chain of caretakers that keep these precious documents safe through generations, until they are finally brought to light. When you think about how casually we toss paper, cards, letters, and then think about how long some of these documents--letters, maps, speeches--have been kept safe, it's amazing and humbling. 

Nathan's book discusses some of his favorite finds, and the history behind them: a survey done by George Washington for land he purchased before becoming President; a letter from Theodore Roosevelt where he uses the phrase "Speak softly and carry a big stick" for the first time; personal letters from Ronald Reagan to his daughter Patti Davis, filled with the love of a father to a daughter in times of family turbulence. A letter from Martin Luther King, Jr, in jail--a love letter to a woman not his wife. Fascinating stories of snippets of history. 

Anyone who loves history will want to dive into this book. Each chapter is about another experience Nathan has had in his career, and how they all profoundly effect his life and his work. This is a man who sees the people and the events behind these documents, not just how much money he can make from selling them. 

Oh, my Dad would have loved this book. ­čĺľ

Rating: 5/6 for a look at history from a different perspective: the letters, memos, and documents that helped shape our nation and bring personal perspective to big moments in history. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

1 comment :

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