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Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic
April, 1865. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox, John Wilkes Booth fires a pistol ball into Lincoln's head, and General Sherman's army marches into the vanquished and shuttered city of Raleigh. Sometime amid that tumultuous stretch of days, an unknown infantryman rifles through the North Carolina Statehouse, hunting for Confederate mementos--but what...
April, 1865. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox, John Wilkes Booth fires a pistol ball into Lincoln's head, and General Sherman's army marches into the vanquished and shuttered city of Raleigh. Sometime amid that tumultuous stretch of days, an unknown infantryman rifles through the North Carolina Statehouse, hunting for Confederate mementos--but what he finds is no ordinary souvenir. He returns home with a touchstone of our Republic: one of the fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights. Lost Rights follows that document's epic passage over the course of 138 years, from the Indiana businessman who purchases the looted parchment for five dollars to the antiques dealer who tries to peddle it more than a century later for $5 million. The parchment drifts from the living-room wall of a middle-class Midwestern family into the corruptible world of high-end antiquities before its journey ends with a dramatic FBI sting on the 32nd floor of a Philadelphia office tower. Part history, part detective story, part true-crime yarn, Lost Rights is a page-turner populated by unforgettable characters--the outrageous New England antique-furniture dealer, the real estate magnate seeking his next financial conquest, the folk-art expert who stows the iconic document under his bed, and the little-known historian who divines the parchment's most important secret from a faded, barely legible, 200-year-old notation, among many others. And, of course, there is the broadsheet itself--priceless, yet ultimately worthless in the legitimate marketplace.For fans of The Billionaire's Vinegar and The Lost Painting, Lost Rights is "a tour de force of antiquarian sleuthing" (Hampton Sides).
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