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TRUE RAIDERS

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE 1909 EXPEDITION TO FIND THE LEGENDARY ARK OF THE COVENANT

An entertaining if slight telling of what was ultimately a minor episode in the history of archaeology.

The fascinating story of a bizarre expedition to find one of the most famous of all historical artifacts.

Ricca focuses primarily on Monty Parker (1878-1962), a veteran of the Second Boer War and the younger son of a British earl. In 1908, he was approached by a syndicate founded to explore the claims of Valter Juvelius, a Finnish researcher who claimed to have found a cipher in the Bible revealing the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Parker joined the effort partly in hopes of impressing Ava Astor, a wealthy divorcée who’d caught his eye, but mainly because of the enormous value the Ark was expected to bring its discovers. By the fall of 1908, Parker, Juvelius, and other members of the expedition were in Jerusalem, planning to explore a system of tunnels under the city. Ricca chronicles the 1867 exploration of the tunnels by Sir Charles Warren, a British officer with a strong interest in archaeology, giving readers some context and a clear sense of the difficulties of the project. But Parker’s expedition, aided by squads of local laborers and financed by rich donors in Britain and America, was on a much grander scale. As they began to open up the maze of tunnels, they were joined by Father Vincent, a local priest who helped them uncover a few artifacts of archaeological significance. Meanwhile, Parker pushed ahead, doing his best to make sense of Juvelius’ clues while keeping his purpose hidden from everyone outside the syndicate. In the end, the project fell apart, achieving little beyond enraging the local Muslim population after an attempt to dig inside the Mosque of Omar. Ricca tells the story in novelistic style, switching viewpoints and inventing conversations, which somewhat compensates for the lack of any real denouement to the adventure.

An entertaining if slight telling of what was ultimately a minor episode in the history of archaeology.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-27360-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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