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True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

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True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca. This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life versi True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca. This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this incredible story of adventure and mystery has almost been completely forgotten today. In 1908, Monty is approached by a strange Finnish scholar named Valter Juvelius who claims to have discovered a secret code in the Bible that reveals the location of the Ark. Monty assembles a ragtag group of blueblood adventurers, a renowned psychic, and a Franciscan father, to engage in a secret excavation just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Using recently uncovered records from the original expedition and several newly translated sources, True Raiders is the first retelling of this group's adventures- in the space between fact and faith, science and romance.


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True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca. This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life versi True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca. This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this incredible story of adventure and mystery has almost been completely forgotten today. In 1908, Monty is approached by a strange Finnish scholar named Valter Juvelius who claims to have discovered a secret code in the Bible that reveals the location of the Ark. Monty assembles a ragtag group of blueblood adventurers, a renowned psychic, and a Franciscan father, to engage in a secret excavation just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Using recently uncovered records from the original expedition and several newly translated sources, True Raiders is the first retelling of this group's adventures- in the space between fact and faith, science and romance.

30 review for True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    When I first learned that Raiders of the Lost Ark, my favorite movie, might have been based on an actual archaeological expedition, I felt like my face was melting off. - from The Untold Story… articleBefore he was the Police Commissioner stuck having to deal with Jack the Ripper, (who was at first, BTW, called, much less memorably, “Leather Apron”) Captain Charles Warren, a Royal Engineer, spent parts of several years near Jerusalem doing archaeological work for the British Crown, digging out When I first learned that Raiders of the Lost Ark, my favorite movie, might have been based on an actual archaeological expedition, I felt like my face was melting off. - from The Untold Story… articleBefore he was the Police Commissioner stuck having to deal with Jack the Ripper, (who was at first, BTW, called, much less memorably, “Leather Apron”) Captain Charles Warren, a Royal Engineer, spent parts of several years near Jerusalem doing archaeological work for the British Crown, digging out some ancient tunnels, and laying the groundwork for explorations to come. About thirty years later, a Finnish scholar believes he has found a code in the Book of Ezekiel that addresses some of the tunnels Warren had excavated. Dr. Valter Juvelius’s code-breaker, he says, points the way to the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant. Brad Ricca - image from Amazon Of course, today this guy would be one of a thousand cranks flogging his wares on the internet, generating eye-rolls, and maybe trying for a spot on Shark Tank. But in 1909 he was taken seriously and was embraced by a group of men willing to spend some of their considerable excess cash on an adventure, and look to their wealthy friends and associates to provide the rest of the needed funding. They formed a group called J.M.P.V.F. Syndicate, for their initials, but referred to it as The Syndicate (nothing sinister there), hoping to find the Ark, reputed to have properties that allowed one to communicate directly with God. Whether it provided an early version of the iPhone, a Star Trek communicator, an eight-ball, a metal can with a very, very long string attached, or no comms-capacity at all, they estimated it to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, or something on the order of twenty three billion dollars in today’s money. Adigging they will go. Charles Warren in Palestine, 1867 - image from The History Reader We follow the progress of the digs over several years, noting the discoveries that were made, and the challenges the participants faced. Some very Indy-ish adventures are included. The point of this book is not to tease you about the location of the Ark. Ok, maybe it is, a bit, but rest assured that if the Ark had been found and the author had figured out where it is, I seriously doubt he would be telling us. He would be living VERY LARGE somewhere, and who knows, maybe having daily chats with you-know-who. (Sup, G?) True Raiders is my love letter to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but also to the conspiracy-minded genre of eighties properties like In Search Of, Amazing Stories, and Holy Blood, Holy Grail…I…want to ask real questions about the intersections between fact, story, and truth. Did Monty really go after the Ark? Yes, he did. What did he find? That answer is more complicated. - from The Untold Story… article Monty Parker - image from Wiki If you picked up this book without having examined the flap copy or inspected the cover too closely, you could easily mistake it for a novel. Ricca has taken liberties, fleshing out the structure of known events with bountiful interpretation. It makes for a smoother and more engaging read than a mere recitation of facts might allow. I was reminded of the shows aired on The History Channel in which actors portray historical events. Ricca does it with panache. A sample: Ava Lowle Willing Astor was in a mood. She reclined back on her chair and paged through the Times to take her mind off things. She pushed through the headlines to the society pages, to look for the names of people she knew and parties she had attended—and those she had ruthlessly avoided. The Sunday-morning light was streaming through her high windows. Her daughter Alice was around, somewhere. “Alice!” she yelled out sharply, in no particular direction but loud. There was no answer. She was probably trying on her jewelry again. Ava made a face. Ava Lowle Willing Astor - image from Wikipedia Ava and Monty flirt. But it seems she is here more for social context, and to offer a take on what challenges were faced by uber-rich women with more independence than was thought proper at the time. There are few women playing a significant role in this story. One is Bertha Vester, a Chicago-born local, brought to Jerusalem as a child. She became a towering figure in Jerusalem, internationally renowned for her charitable work with children of all faiths, through the organization her father had established, The American Colony. She was also a major source for Parker, connecting him to local experts able to help in the dig. And offering him the benefit of her knowledge of area history, including Charles Warren’s work. Bertha Spafford, (later Vester) age 19, in 1896. - image from IsabellaAlden.com In the Notes that follows the text of the tale, Ricca says: Rather than a history, this is a history of the story. Chapters are grouped into parts that are based on the point-of-view of the person or source used. That is true enough. Monty Parker’s expedition was the one looking hard for the Ark, but Warren’s work thirty years before had done the initial digging, and the de-coding by Dr. Juvelius provided the actual spark. The stories merge when Parker is helped by Bertha Vester to connect with Warren’s work, and with local archaeological experts. Valter Juvelius (left) around 1909–1911 in the Siloam tunnel. There are personalities aplenty on display here. Ricca gives us some individual histories, although nothing that might smack of a stand-alone biography. Some of the characters were involved in newspaper headlines or related notoriety. Ava Lowle Willing Astor was involved in a front-page divorce from John Jacob Astor IV, who would later sail on the maiden voyage of an ill-starred ship, prior to her involvement with the expedition. As noted earlier, Charles Warren had the misfortune of being the Police Commissioner when Jack the Ripper was cutting his way through London. Monty and his pals gained notoriety of an unwanted sort after one of their (certainly unauthorized) digs. Their hasty retreat was an international incident, garnering coverage in the New York Times, and generating mass outrage among the locals in Jerusalem. NY Times headline about Parker absconding …on May 14, 1911, The New York Times ran a story titled “Mysterious Bags Taken from Mosque.” In it, the expedition is described as having worked for two years just “to reach that one spot.” And though the article asserts that “what they really found no one knows,” it notes that the expedition “told different persons that they are ‘very satisfied.’” The article claims that four or five men, including Parker, Duff, and Wilson, invaded the Haram at midnight, having gained entrance by bribery, and that they lifted up a heavy stone, entered a cavern, and “took away two bags.” Before they left on their white yacht from Jaffa, they had a cup of tea. The caretaker they had bribed was in jail and suffered a further indignation: his great beard and mustache had been shaved off in public. The same story also printed a conversation between a “very liberal” Moslem man of Jerusalem and an Englishman: “Suppose that some Moslems entered Westminster Abbey and deliberately carried away treasure from some secret underground vault?” asked the Moslem. “What would happen?” “War,” said the Englishman. The book raises questions of where found relics belong, not, ultimately, showing Monty and his partners in the kindest light. Part of that portrayal is to show the self-regard of the upper crust, presuming that their privileged upbringing carried with it not just an inflated sense of entitlement, but an enhanced level of self-regard as being of strong, moral character. Juvelius was relieved. He knew that one would have to have mediocre intelligence to think they could milk secrets from an English gentleman. Another participant, Robin Duff, let on to Rudyard Kipling that he was responsible for raping local virgins in Jerusalem. Maybe not quite the highest moral character. Father Louis-Hughes Vincent There is a far-too-lengthy where-are-they-now series of chapters at the back of the book that might have been more alluring in a longer work, one that had offered more beforehand about the people involved, made us more interested in their stories. It makes sense in the overall intent, but seemed too large a tail for a creature of this size. (the unfortunately named) Warren’s Shaft - image from Wikimedia You will learn some interesting intel reading True Raiders, such as where the Indy writers got the notion of that gigantic boulder rolling through a tunnel, a possible origin for a Scandinavian deity, and how George Lucas decided on the Ark as the target of Indiana Jones’s first great quest. It seems possible that Monty Parker was one of many real-world models for the fictitious Indy. The location of the Ark should surely spark some interest of the did-they-or-didn’t-they find it sort. You will see the sort of competition Parker faced while attempting to find the Ark, from both the rich and powerful billionaire sorts and more local interests. Ava Astor has some interesting whoo-whoo experiences, unrelated to Monty’s dig. Ricca offers a sense of adventure in a real-world story, however embellished the details might be. He brings actual archaeological knowledge along, showing the significance of the finds made by both the Warren and Parker digs, gives us a look at some of the social mores and activities of the times, and loads it all up with a wonderful sense of fun, allowing readers to wonder, Would I have done this or that if offered the chance? No fedora, leather jacket, or whip needed. True Raiders is definitely worth exploring. No snakes involved. Fake, but fabulous Raider - image from Mental Floss Review posted – September 21, 2021 Publication date – September 24, 2021 I received an e-ARE of True Raiders from St. Martins through NetGalley in return for doing some digging. Thanks. This review has been cross-posted on my site, Coot’s Reviews. Come say Hi! =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, FB, and Twitter pages Interview -----Constant Wonder - Searching for the Ark of the Covenant - by Markus Smith - audio – 40:34 Items of Interest from the author -----Excerpt from The History Reader - True Raiders: Charles Warren -----The Untold Story of the Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant I try not to think about it too much, but I think I spent a great many lonely years earning a doctorate solely because of Raiders. I may not have been lost in Egyptian tombs or navigated ancient mazes, but I have found lost documents and have taught for many years out of cramped offices that resembled utility closets. And it was all great. But I never thought it would lead me to the Ark. Somewhere, I was disappointed not only that it hadn’t, but that I had foolishly believed it would. Then I learned about Monty Parker. Items of Interest (Wikions?) -----Wiki on Charles Warren -----Wiki on Monty Parker -----Wiki on Cyril Foley -----Wiki on Book of Ezekial ----- Library of Congress - The Bertha Vester diaries -----World History Encyclopedia - The Moabite Stone [Mesha Stele] by William Brown ----- Wiki on Ava Lowle Willing Astor by Mark Meredith

  2. 4 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    WOW—what an adventure; and, it’s made only better because the main thread of the story follows the actual expeditions in search of The Ark of the Covenant!! Brad Ricca has done his research and given life to the characters and the places in TRUE RAIDERS:The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant. The book’s chapters are short which keep readers engaged and curious. Since my copy was an ARC, I’m unsure if in the released hardcopy, pictures or maps were includ WOW—what an adventure; and, it’s made only better because the main thread of the story follows the actual expeditions in search of The Ark of the Covenant!! Brad Ricca has done his research and given life to the characters and the places in TRUE RAIDERS:The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant. The book’s chapters are short which keep readers engaged and curious. Since my copy was an ARC, I’m unsure if in the released hardcopy, pictures or maps were included. If not, I think the inclusion of both would have greatly enhanced the book. My rating reflects this one wish. This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and I wish to thank St Martins Press and Goodreads for providing me with the opportunity to read this title in exchange for my review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this fascinating, thoroughly researched non-fiction book in return for an honest review. This true story of the Parker Expedition of 1909 has been based on recently recovered and original records, newly translated sources, various publications, and first-person narratives. I have always enjoyed true, factual adventure accounts, including stories about archaeology. This is an intriguing and informative account of the expedition to find the fabl I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this fascinating, thoroughly researched non-fiction book in return for an honest review. This true story of the Parker Expedition of 1909 has been based on recently recovered and original records, newly translated sources, various publications, and first-person narratives. I have always enjoyed true, factual adventure accounts, including stories about archaeology. This is an intriguing and informative account of the expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant, which they believed to be hidden within branching tunnels under Jerusalem. The story for the search for the Ark conveyed the difficulty of crawling through dusty tunnels, sometimes muddy and dripping with water. Their tedious excavations where the tunnels branched off in new directions are the backbone of an exciting, thrilling story. I felt the story veered off into too many other historical directions rather than being concise. Monty Parker, from a noble family, was approached by an obsessed, eccentric Finnish Bible scholar who claimed he had translated a hidden code in the Old Testament revealing the location of the Ark. The man claimed he had cryptic clues enabling him to discover Moses's grave in a different location. Parker was dared by Ava Astor and became interested in the endeavour to locate the legendary Ark. Parker assembled a team of ex-military friends from elite families who were bored and anxious for adventure. One was most famous as a professional cricket player. Added to this team was a local Dominican father who was an archaeologist and religious historian, giving credibility to a group with no experience in archaeological excavations. The code-obsessed Biblical scholar also claimed he had deciphered Biblical instructions that lead him to make maps of the tunnels. Also connected were a psychic and translators of modern languages and ancient scripts. Bribes were paid to political figures and guards to enable them to carry out their secret digs outside the walls of Jerusalem. There was much interesting history involved, including mention of battles in the past war, the opening of King Tut's tomb, local politics and the legal system, Whitechapel, New York and British high society, the Titanic, etc. With so many characters involved, and some not included in the summary at the beginning of the book, I found the narrative of this gripping adventure to lack cohesiveness and become disjointed at times. The book was helped by having each chapter clearly labelled as the featured character, the year, and the location. I frequently stopped my reading to look at photos of the leading characters and the Parker expedition on the internet as none were used to illustrate the fascinating book. The expedition ended in infamy. Parker, with others, had bribed guards and sneaked into the holy and revered Dome of the Rock and were seen digging there. During Moslem, Jewish and Christian religious days, and news of their desecration set off riots through the city. They managed to flee by boat, but false rumours spread that they had escaped not only the Ark of the Covenant but a crown and ring associated with David and Solomon. Recommended for those interested in history, Biblical study, and archaeology. 3.5 stars raised to 4 for the impeccable and painstaking research.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Thanks to the publisher and author for the ARC of this book, TRUE RAIDERS by author PROFESSOR BRAD RICCA. I am Jewish, and after my visit to Israel in 2011, the history of my heritage has become very important to me. For instance, what happened to The Ark of the Covenant? King Solomon’s treasures? The accoutrements of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem? Long before my visit, I watched the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Professor Ricco has tackled some of those mysteries in his new book. Th Thanks to the publisher and author for the ARC of this book, TRUE RAIDERS by author PROFESSOR BRAD RICCA. I am Jewish, and after my visit to Israel in 2011, the history of my heritage has become very important to me. For instance, what happened to The Ark of the Covenant? King Solomon’s treasures? The accoutrements of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem? Long before my visit, I watched the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Professor Ricco has tackled some of those mysteries in his new book. This true story bounces back and forth between two basic time periods – the 1860s - 80s and 1908-11. He follows two teams of archaeologists one led by Sir Charles Warren (1860s - 80s) and the other by Montague Parker (first decade of the1900s), who was the 2nd son of the Earl of Morley. Warren was the first to really explore the tunnels that brought water to the Pool of Siloam and Hezekiah’s Tunnel from around 800 BCE. Two boys playing hooky from a nearby school find a tablet in the tunnel whose first word was deciphered as “Behold”. The rest was unintelligible. As an aside, Warren was also involved with the “Jack the Ripper Case” in London working with Scotland Yard. In 1908, Parker joins Johan Millen, Cyril Foley, Clarence Wilson, Captain Robin Duff and Dr. Juvelius to create a syndicate to locate The Ark of the Covenant. Juvelius claims to have discovered a secret code in the Old and New Testaments that tells the location of The Ark. In Jerusalem, they meet Father Vincent a biblical archaeologist working at a university in Palestine. He eventually joins the expedition. The team made a few discoveries and cleaned out the tunnels. They also made maps of them. Today, those tunnels are open to tourists. In December 1910, William Le Queux published a successful novel called Treasures of Israel. His story seemed very real to the team in Jerusalem. Le Queux later became one of the founders of British Intelligence. In 1911, in the Valley of Hinnom, in a cave they did not have permission to be in, Parker’s team finds a throne they believe was King Solomon’s throne until they realize it has a hole in the seat! Parker was also accused of illegally digging under The Dome of the Rock (The Foundation Stone). Other interesting sidelights are the introduction of Ava Astor, divorced wife of John Jacob Astor, and Baron Edmund de Rothschild, a Jewish French banker. Astor was a victim of the Titanic’s sinking in 1912. Rothschild was a huge benefactor of Jews in Israel/Palestine. At the end of the book Professor Ricco tells what happened to both groups of archaeologists and how he came to write this book. This part was also very interesting. If you are a fan of history, archaeology or science, then by all means read this book. It is a page-turner, written more like a memoir than a straight history. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. GO! BUY! READ!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    As intriguing as this premise was, I’m afraid the book as a whole wasn’t as captivating as I’d hoped. In the years preceding WWI, a handful of Englishmen formed The Syndicate to hunt for the Ark of the Covenant beneath Mount Ophel in Jerusalem. With promises of Indiana Jones-esque adventures, the fact that not much was achieved was a let-down. Other than excavating Hezekiah’s tunnels, the expedition’s most significant artifact found was a bronze age Egyptian-inspired bowl. The author’s attempt a As intriguing as this premise was, I’m afraid the book as a whole wasn’t as captivating as I’d hoped. In the years preceding WWI, a handful of Englishmen formed The Syndicate to hunt for the Ark of the Covenant beneath Mount Ophel in Jerusalem. With promises of Indiana Jones-esque adventures, the fact that not much was achieved was a let-down. Other than excavating Hezekiah’s tunnels, the expedition’s most significant artifact found was a bronze age Egyptian-inspired bowl. The author’s attempt at narrative nonfiction didn’t quite work here either. The writing was often disjointed and inconsistent. Some chapters were anecdotal and introduced characters that were superfluous. One example was the chapter that recounted the shooting of American tourists at the Dome of the Rock while the excavation was going on a few miles away. Another character who had excavated the same site 40 years earlier was involved in investigating Jack the Ripper’s murders, which had absolutely nothing to do with the overall plot. I’m not sue the narrative of the leader of the American Colony in Jerusalem was even necessary. Dr. Juvelius was a key player who provided a biblical cypher that guided the dig, but I was perplexed why his biographical information wasn’t provided until the end of the book. There were elements of the historical drama that were fascinating, and I enjoyed particular characters like Father Vincent and Monty Parker. I especially liked Father Vincent’s keen observations: “Though the caves were natural, someone had molded and connected them to a higher purpose. Father Vincent was seeing the evidence of one very human, very gifted man… He called him The Master Architect.” Overall the book had promise, but lacked cohesion and the dramatic adventure it promised. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Two things come to my mind when I think of the Ark of the Covenant: 1) The mentioning of it in The Bible (a pure gold covered wooden chest with a lid that was referred to as the "Mercy seat"). 2) Stephen Spielberg's, Indiana Jones movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I was super stoked when I saw that there was a non-fiction book about the expedition to find it in 1909...SCORE😍....or not?👎 Of course, history tells us that the ark was never discovered since the mention of the biblical account (even tho Two things come to my mind when I think of the Ark of the Covenant: 1) The mentioning of it in The Bible (a pure gold covered wooden chest with a lid that was referred to as the "Mercy seat"). 2) Stephen Spielberg's, Indiana Jones movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I was super stoked when I saw that there was a non-fiction book about the expedition to find it in 1909...SCORE😍....or not?👎 Of course, history tells us that the ark was never discovered since the mention of the biblical account (even though there have been numerous claims of possession by folks in Europe, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.). From the author, "True Raiders tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue noblemen who, after being dared by Ava Astor, the so-called most beautiful woman in the world, headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant." The book reads like a book of historical fiction, with many different POV's and a lot of dialogue which at times is very confusing. The first 40 pages or so I was intrigued, but after that, I was succumbed to complete boredom. The story seemed repetitive discussing over and over excavating tunnels with no discoveries. In my opinion, nothing interesting happens and the little things that are discovered did not wow me. There were also random connections and discussions of characters that could have been left out. I went into the book thinking that it would be incredibly adventurous and entertaining and it just was not for me. I was going to give it 2 stars, but due to the author's incredible amount of research done (there are 48 pages of notes/references after the Epilogue), I went with 3⭐'s. Thank you to Goodreads, the author, and St. Martin's Press for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    T

    Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free copy to review. Hmmmm. I am very torn on this book. Is it historical nonfiction? Or is it, as it read to me, historical fiction? There was a lot of dialogue. A lot. And way more telling than showing. That’s part of the reason why I’m of 2 minds with this title. Plus, there are a lot of characters (again, a lot) and while there’s a who’s who at the beginning of the book, it still feels very disjointed and hard to find a cohesive narra Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free copy to review. Hmmmm. I am very torn on this book. Is it historical nonfiction? Or is it, as it read to me, historical fiction? There was a lot of dialogue. A lot. And way more telling than showing. That’s part of the reason why I’m of 2 minds with this title. Plus, there are a lot of characters (again, a lot) and while there’s a who’s who at the beginning of the book, it still feels very disjointed and hard to find a cohesive narrative. Despite these points, it was fascinating to see a Whitechapel/Jack the Ripper connection. I won’t spill on that because all readers deserve to stumble upon this at the moment it is least expected. Still overall very torn on this book, however.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    I love it when my favorite movies have a bit of truth in them! I'm a huge Raiders of the Lost Ark fan, so I grabbed up a review copy of this book the moment I knew it was coming out! And the true tale is even more adventurous and mystical than the Hollywood version! 1909. Monty Parker, a larger than life adventurous Brit, is dared to go on an expedition to find the Ark of the Covenant. Beautiful women. A mysterious scholar. Adventurous men. Even Psychics. And a secret archeological dig near Jerus I love it when my favorite movies have a bit of truth in them! I'm a huge Raiders of the Lost Ark fan, so I grabbed up a review copy of this book the moment I knew it was coming out! And the true tale is even more adventurous and mystical than the Hollywood version! 1909. Monty Parker, a larger than life adventurous Brit, is dared to go on an expedition to find the Ark of the Covenant. Beautiful women. A mysterious scholar. Adventurous men. Even Psychics. And a secret archeological dig near Jerusalem. It is the stuff of Legend....and the telling of this story sucked me right in and kept my attention from start to finish! The history junkie in me was in complete heaven -- and no, I didn't see the Ark there. This book is phenomenal! Anyone who loves tales of archeological digs in the early 1900s and strange history will LOVE this book! Sometimes it completely factual that truth can be stranger than fiction! Love, love, love, LOVEEEEEEE this book! I read a portion of this book in ebook format, then switched to the audio book. The audio is just short of 10.5 hours long. Narrated by Stephanie Willis, the audio is an excellent listening experience. **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book (and purchased the audio format) from St Martins Press. All opinions expressed (and exclamation points, Capital letters, etc) are entirely my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    A sprawling, fragmented tale of the quest which eventually inspired Indians Jones. Interesting in places, but occasionally confusing by jumping timelines and characters in a haphazard fashion. Plus the book thinks the Bible actually represents historical events, which it does not. So in that sense the book is naive, even if the premise is amusing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    As much as I'm a huge fan of Indian Jones, enjoying his adventures has always required a certain willing suspension of disbelief, especially around the biblical MacGuffins. So, as intrigued as I was by Brad Ricca's exploration of True Raiders, I entered into it with some trepidation, worried it might get bogged down by biblical 'truths' that are just as fanciful to me as anything from Norse, Greek, or Aztec mythology. I needn't have worried. While the men of that early expedition are men of faith As much as I'm a huge fan of Indian Jones, enjoying his adventures has always required a certain willing suspension of disbelief, especially around the biblical MacGuffins. So, as intrigued as I was by Brad Ricca's exploration of True Raiders, I entered into it with some trepidation, worried it might get bogged down by biblical 'truths' that are just as fanciful to me as anything from Norse, Greek, or Aztec mythology. I needn't have worried. While the men of that early expedition are men of faith, their focus seems to have been more on history than mythology. Their search for the Ark has nothing to do with magical powers or divine miracles - instead, it's about solving centuries-old puzzles and following the clues to the hiding place of an historical treasure. That's an adventure I could buy into, and I quickly found myself fascinated by the adventure. There's a lot to the story of Monty Parker and team that will be familiar to fans of adventure fiction, whether your taste runs more to Amelia Peabody, Nina Wilde, Sam & Remi Fargo, Jack Howard, Robert Langdon, or Indiana Jones. There's the fateful stumbling upon hidden passages, the deciphering of hidden codes and cryptic directions, the negotiation with political and religious leaders, the false leads and dead ends, the specter of those who wish to shut everything down, and the accidental discovery of unexpected histories and secrets. There's even a twist on 'savior' aspect of those stories, only here it's more about being respectful to and appreciative of those whose lands the adventurers trespass. Of course, if you're a fan of real-life archaeological adventures and treasure hunts, bitter disappointment will be just as familiar. Fictional heroes always find their MacGuffin, even if they must lose it or destroy it to save the world, but real life doesn't follow a script. What's interesting about True Raiders is that we enter into it knowing that the Ark won't be found, but we're still just invested in the adventure, still just as prepared to be thrilled by small triumphs and minor discoveries, even if they won't ultimately lead to the Ark. There's a lot of what I'll call downtime to the story, a lot of conversations and ordinary travels that are more about character building and historical color than adventure, but that's okay. It served to humanize the men (and a few notable women) behind the search, and to place their efforts within the political and social context of the times. It's sometimes easy to forget how much the world has changed over the last hundred years, how much borders have shifted and cultures transformed, so even as I chafed to get back to the dig, and even as I questioned what relevance certain tangents had to the story I appreciated the framing because even the most isolated digs don't take place in a vacuum. If you're interested in world history and have an appreciation for real archaeology - the kind that's dirty and disappointing, as much about ideas as tangible artifacts - then True Raiders is a fascinating read. https://beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.com/...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim Fox

    I am really struggling with this book, True Raiders by Brad Ricca. I love non fiction books, and I love treasure hunts, but this book moved so slow, that I struggled to read it. I found there were way too many characters that weren't needed, and way too much dialogue for a non fiction book. But, the amount of research that was done on this book is what drives my rating. I may try to read this one again one day, in hopes that it was me and not the book. Thank you to Netgalley, St Martin's Press, I am really struggling with this book, True Raiders by Brad Ricca. I love non fiction books, and I love treasure hunts, but this book moved so slow, that I struggled to read it. I found there were way too many characters that weren't needed, and way too much dialogue for a non fiction book. But, the amount of research that was done on this book is what drives my rating. I may try to read this one again one day, in hopes that it was me and not the book. Thank you to Netgalley, St Martin's Press, and Brad Ricca for the eARC/ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: May 27, 2021 Publication date: September 21, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave ( #fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. Plus it is hot as all heck and nothing is more appealing than sitting in front of a fan with a kindle.! I requested and rec Date reviewed/posted: May 27, 2021 Publication date: September 21, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave ( #fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. Plus it is hot as all heck and nothing is more appealing than sitting in front of a fan with a kindle.! I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca. This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this incredible story of adventure and mystery has almost been completely forgotten today. In 1908, Monty is approached by a strange Finnish scholar named Valter Juvelius who claims to have discovered a secret code in the Bible that reveals the location of the Ark. Monty assembles a ragtag group of blueblood adventurers, a renowned psychic, and a Franciscan father, to engage in a secret excavation just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Using recently uncovered records from the original expedition and several newly translated sources, True Raiders is the first retelling of this group's adventures- in the space between fact and faith, science and romance. Just the other day we were watching my beloved "Murdoch Mysteries - Murdoch and the Temple of Death" and they did a riff on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (loved the ending...and the conversation re: "what kind of cup would Jesus have used"? ... and we wondered if anyone actually had ever looked for it. This answered that question...even though it was a secret expedition. (And in the episode "Bloody Hell" the file room was certainly like the room at the end of Raiders!) The characters are certainly characters and I so wish that this could be a movie - it goes places I never dreamt would have been involved in looking for the Ark and I utterly devoured this book and passed it on to my husband to read, even though my one sister asked for it before him. (rock, paper, scissors...!) I will highly recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, people reading books in the park (as we do) and my friends that I know loved the movie but are not really readers, per se, as we talk about this movie all the time...I have seen RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK at least 100 times and most of those were with my high school pal Tracey! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🎩🎩🎩🎩🎩 (the closest I could come to Indy's fedora and Murdoch's bowler hat!)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    True Raiders by Brad Ricca is an excellent book that is the cumulation of facts, stories, documents, historical accounts, first-person narratives, publications, and so on of a retelling of the infamous Parker Expedition. I loved this! Being a life-long and passionate fan of archeology, I instantly grabbed up this book to see what could be made of the famous and mysterious Parker Expedition that took place in the early 20th century. Boy, I am glad I did! Headed by Monty Parker, amongst many other p True Raiders by Brad Ricca is an excellent book that is the cumulation of facts, stories, documents, historical accounts, first-person narratives, publications, and so on of a retelling of the infamous Parker Expedition. I loved this! Being a life-long and passionate fan of archeology, I instantly grabbed up this book to see what could be made of the famous and mysterious Parker Expedition that took place in the early 20th century. Boy, I am glad I did! Headed by Monty Parker, amongst many other players (in which the author presents at the beginning in a Who’s Who list, and in alternating viewpoints, this archeological dig/expedition/quest involved the ultimate goal of locating, unearthing and deciphering the location and contents of the biblical (and at times mystical) Ark of the Covenant. (For movie fans...does Harrison Ford and Raiders of the Lost Ark ring any bells?) We get to meet all of the unique, fascinating, and fabulous players within this group, and the author is beyond impressive in weaving a narrative that is based on all the above research into what feels like a smooth, intriguing, and easy fictional novel. Alternating viewpoints are used to help round out the information that has been gathered from the plethora of sources to help weave the storyline into place. It was gripping, fascinating, intriguing, entertaining, and fantastic. It just makes me love history and archeology even more so. I am in love with this book! 5/5 stars Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Matlow

    Kudos to the author for some insanely detailed research into an expedition that I never knew existed. In 1909 a group of people set off to find the Ark of the Covenant following a supposed cipher that revealed supposedly hidden messages in the Bible. There are many parts of this expedition that are like a real life Indiana Jones. I love this type of stuff. Unfortunately this book is so mired in detail, much of it completely useless, that it's a slog to read. I tried and I tried but gave up 2/3 o Kudos to the author for some insanely detailed research into an expedition that I never knew existed. In 1909 a group of people set off to find the Ark of the Covenant following a supposed cipher that revealed supposedly hidden messages in the Bible. There are many parts of this expedition that are like a real life Indiana Jones. I love this type of stuff. Unfortunately this book is so mired in detail, much of it completely useless, that it's a slog to read. I tried and I tried but gave up 2/3 of the way in. I really wanted to like this book and apparently I'm the outsider to give it a bad review but, well, it's just not a great read. If you're looking for a book about the search for the Ark of the Covenant, read the Sign and the Seal, by Graham Hancock. That is an amazing book, which actually sparked my interest in this field about 30 years ago and I've since read a ton of books about it. Tomb Raiders would not be in my top 10 recommendations. Though I don't remember the details of the book, my guess is that Graham Hancock mentioned the 1909 expedition in his book for a page or two, and that's about all is needed. #netgalley #trueraiders

  15. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This book has a lot going on. There’s quite a few characters which at times are hard to keep track of. The story jumps back and forth a lot too. All this I found confusing. I was expecting a different type story Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a free e-ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. I've always liked the Indiana Jones movies so hearing this was possibly a real-life Indiana Jones did pique my interest. The story timeline jumps back and forth between key events and people involved with the search for the Ark of the Convenant. It was written in an interesting way and kept my attention. It made history come to life for me. I received a free e-ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. I've always liked the Indiana Jones movies so hearing this was possibly a real-life Indiana Jones did pique my interest. The story timeline jumps back and forth between key events and people involved with the search for the Ark of the Convenant. It was written in an interesting way and kept my attention. It made history come to life for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Merrit Townsend (always1morebook)

    I received a free copy of this book from Brad Ricca and St. Martin Press. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. The title and cover of this book caught my attention right away. An iIndiana Jones type adventure. Sign me up!. The tagline "This is the untold story of the 1909 expedition to find the legendary Arc of the covenant" was also a big influence. The book has some romance but it is not a huge part of the book. I loved the adventure and the Raiders of the Lost Arc I received a free copy of this book from Brad Ricca and St. Martin Press. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. The title and cover of this book caught my attention right away. An iIndiana Jones type adventure. Sign me up!. The tagline "This is the untold story of the 1909 expedition to find the legendary Arc of the covenant" was also a big influence. The book has some romance but it is not a huge part of the book. I loved the adventure and the Raiders of the Lost Arc vibe. The author sucks you in and keeps you there wondering if the Arc will ever be found! I loved the story and the way the book was plotted out. I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of people in the book and also the large amount of information/historical aspects of the book. I also was unsure if this was a fictional boor or true story..The way the book is written made me think fictional at times. Overall the book kept my attention and I would recommend it. I give this one 4 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    The Ark Of The Covenant has always been a sought after relic from biblical times. In 1909 the early part of the 20th century a rag tag group of characters comes together for an expedition to the Middle East to search for the Ark. What they find as opposed to what they are supposed to find is the premise for this work of nonfiction by Brad Ricca. I really enjoyed reading The Raiders it was so interesting and full of history. And my takeaway is that I learned about a piece of forgotten history. Fi The Ark Of The Covenant has always been a sought after relic from biblical times. In 1909 the early part of the 20th century a rag tag group of characters comes together for an expedition to the Middle East to search for the Ark. What they find as opposed to what they are supposed to find is the premise for this work of nonfiction by Brad Ricca. I really enjoyed reading The Raiders it was so interesting and full of history. And my takeaway is that I learned about a piece of forgotten history. Five stars 🤩 for an excellent work.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    1n 1909, a group of men, including Captain Montague Parker and Cyril Foley, set out on a secret adventure. With the aid of a cipher developed by a Finnish Professor Valter Juvelius, they intended to discover the ark of the covenant. Their plans included digging and clearing the Hezekiah tunnels in Jerusalem and any other areas that might yield treasure. Previous work had been conducted in the same place some twenty years before by Charles Warren but, the new explorers thought they now had more i 1n 1909, a group of men, including Captain Montague Parker and Cyril Foley, set out on a secret adventure. With the aid of a cipher developed by a Finnish Professor Valter Juvelius, they intended to discover the ark of the covenant. Their plans included digging and clearing the Hezekiah tunnels in Jerusalem and any other areas that might yield treasure. Previous work had been conducted in the same place some twenty years before by Charles Warren but, the new explorers thought they now had more information thanks to Dr. Juvelius. And Mr. Ricca tells the story behind the story of their search and the mysteries, adventures, and misadventures that ensued. He also includes the stories of characters who helped aid the group during their quest to find forgotten treasure. Overall, this is a good look back into the past showing how myths become legends and rumors can cause unexpected events. And while I thought the book rambled a bit in parts and included characters who seemed to play a minor or passing role in the expedition, it was still interesting and well-written. I think the end of the book was particularly interesting as it explained to some extent what happened to the central characters after the expedition ended. Thanks to St. Martins Press for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at www.susannesbooklist.com

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    This book opened with such promise. I read 10% in my first sitting and really enjoyed the author's presentation of characters and development of setting and atmosphere. I looked forward to picking up the book again. By about 15% I wondered what had gone wrong. The story began to ramble and go off on tangents. More and more characters were being introduced. Unrelated situations filled pages of text that I started to skim. The original story seemed completely lost in all of these superfluous side This book opened with such promise. I read 10% in my first sitting and really enjoyed the author's presentation of characters and development of setting and atmosphere. I looked forward to picking up the book again. By about 15% I wondered what had gone wrong. The story began to ramble and go off on tangents. More and more characters were being introduced. Unrelated situations filled pages of text that I started to skim. The original story seemed completely lost in all of these superfluous side plots. I initially assumed this was historical fiction written from an archive of records from this archeological expedition. It read like historical fiction because of the dialogue and interplay between characters. However, I realized later that the book is supposed to be a nonfictional account of the expedition based on meticulous examination of the archive. For me, it never felt like nonfiction. This may explain all of the tangential information included in the book. The author added every last bit of information to the narrative. In my opinion, this created a disjointed account that was difficult to follow and unfortunately tedious. Had the author chosen a different style, maybe all of this detail could have been more effectively incorporated, but it did not work as nonfictional story-telling. At about 55% through the book, I decided to skip to the last two chapters and epilogue. This part reminded me of the first 10% of the book. It was focused, well-written and interesting. I also read the author's notes. I never encountered the part about Jack the Ripper and decided not to search for it. Like many other reviewers, I enjoyed the Indiana Jones films and watched them all when they were originally released. The actual expedition that inspired the Indiana Jones story could have been a brilliant book. I would like to see this content edited and written as historical fiction. I think the concept could be an excellent book, unfortunately this version was not. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    This is a nonfiction book that reads so much like fiction that it’s hard to remember how the characters were real people. As the title says, these were the true raiders who tried to do what Indiana Jones only accomplished in our dreams. Or did they really find the Ark of the Covenant? Monty Parker was a nobleman with a thirst for adventure and, using the findings of a Finnish scholar, traveled to Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century for a scavenger hunt that would lead them to the Word This is a nonfiction book that reads so much like fiction that it’s hard to remember how the characters were real people. As the title says, these were the true raiders who tried to do what Indiana Jones only accomplished in our dreams. Or did they really find the Ark of the Covenant? Monty Parker was a nobleman with a thirst for adventure and, using the findings of a Finnish scholar, traveled to Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century for a scavenger hunt that would lead them to the Word of God. The author does excellent work researching not only the people involved, but the time and place and the customs. It’s like time travelling and being there. He obviously also takes liberties with their conversations, but they are believable and engrossing. The text enfolds at breakneck speed, which makes for a fun read of what would normally be boring historical details. A word of caution, this book will make you want to drop everything and become Indiana Jones. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/ St. Martin's Press!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Fleming

    Having never heard of the Parker Expedition I was excited to read this book and learn about something I knew nothing about. From chapter one I was mesmerized and I was taken pack in time. The pages seemed to just flow together as the story unfolded. Wow! What a story this was.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the random tangents that had nothing to do with the story - the Jack the Ripper part is a prime example. I understand that the material for the story was taken from many sources and the author made it as cohesive as he could, but it did jump around a bit. All of that to say, the book was an enjoyable read and I feel like I learned a bit as well! Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the random tangents that had nothing to do with the story - the Jack the Ripper part is a prime example. I understand that the material for the story was taken from many sources and the author made it as cohesive as he could, but it did jump around a bit. All of that to say, the book was an enjoyable read and I feel like I learned a bit as well!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I guess that I just like my historical archaeology more of the Publish or Perish sort. There is a multiplicity of interesting major and minor characters, an abundance of dialogue, and a lot of interesting new things to learn. I geek history and archaeology, so it was a good read for me. I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you! I guess that I just like my historical archaeology more of the Publish or Perish sort. There is a multiplicity of interesting major and minor characters, an abundance of dialogue, and a lot of interesting new things to learn. I geek history and archaeology, so it was a good read for me. I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book tells the story of the search for the Ark of the Covenant from 1909 to 1911. A group of British, Finnish, and Swedish adventurers form a syndicate and raise money (much of which is apparently American) and obtain digging rights in Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. They are joined in some of their endeavors by Father Louis-Hugues Vincent, a Dominican monk in Palestine, who is a scholar and archeologist. The group bases their work mainly on a transcription of passages of the Book of Ezek This book tells the story of the search for the Ark of the Covenant from 1909 to 1911. A group of British, Finnish, and Swedish adventurers form a syndicate and raise money (much of which is apparently American) and obtain digging rights in Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. They are joined in some of their endeavors by Father Louis-Hugues Vincent, a Dominican monk in Palestine, who is a scholar and archeologist. The group bases their work mainly on a transcription of passages of the Book of Ezekiel interpreted from a cipher discovered by Dr. Valter Juvelius. They also dovetail that transcription with work done previously in 1867 to 1870 by Charles Warren, later General Sir Charles Warren who headed the London Metropolitan Police during 2 years of the Jack the Ripper investigation. Warren conducted one of the first excavations of the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem, his most important discovery being a water shaft known as Warren’s Shaft. The group, lead by Monty Parker, much later the Earl of Morley, explore a series of tunnels and excavate some areas, including (apparently) the Dome of the Rock sanctuary, setting off an international incident. The writing is solid and easy to read. For the most part the narrative moves quickly although some of the side details in the beginning to middle of the story “tripped me,” and caused a break in the flow. The end chapters of the book are particularly well-written about what happened to all of the characters in the narrative. This is the strongest and seems to be where the author is most comfortable. The Devil is in the Details: I am aware that I just read an eGalley of this book and that there is still time for editorial corrections. However, certain things that really stuck out and stopped the narrative cold need to be mentioned. Chapter 6 starts in June 1909 with Cyril Foley telling a tale about a day in which he says “… old King George V was married….” This is a real gaff. George V’s coronation was held on June 22, 1911. That would be in the future so he would not refer to him as “old King George V.” Cyril would not know what regnant name that king would choose until 1911, as the monarch-to-be gets to choose what name they reign under. Also, Cyril would not refer to him as “King” under any circumstance as King Edward VII would not die until May 20, 1910 and was still reigning. Prince George was the Prince of Wales at the telling of this story, and it would have been strange to call him “King.” The year of the marriage of Prince George, Duke of York and Princess Mary of Teck was July 6, 1893 and was at St. James Palace, London so the year noted in the text is correct. Second, at about 26% of the text Monty Parker walks from one room, where he looks at himself in the mirror, into the next in which photographic paper is developing. Just that infinitely small amount of light would be enough to expose the paper, as it has not been put into the stop bath yet. This would completely ruin the photo. Finally, and this is really minor if you don’t cook, at about 16% of the text Mrs. Vester is cooking mutton and yellow BUTTER is pooling under it??? If she’s cooking mutton, it’s a lot of animal fat, NOT butter! I note she is in the American Colony and she could have butter produced from their own milk cow(s), but that would not be what you would put into a mutton dish that has a lot of fat already. I’m really not aware of Middle-Eastern cooking that calls for butter, usually it’s readily available olive oil…. Apparently what Mrs. Vester is making is Maklouba or Maqluba, and all of the versions I found on the internet use lamb or veal, not mutton. We can suppose that Mrs. Vester may be poor and is using what she has so mutton it is, but the spicing she uses is salt, pepper, cinnamon, saffron, and allspice. Saffron is generally expensive and isn’t in other recipes for “upside down mutton” or Maklouba. The other recipes I found use turmeric, cumin, cardamom, etc and not saffron. Turmeric itself is plentiful, used in many Middle-Eastern recipes, and would not have been as expensive as saffron then or now. Is this recipe possible? Sure! Just a bit odd if taken in context with other known recipes. Most people won’t notice, but if you cook a lot, it will disrupt the flow of the story. So mentioned, but not terribly important to the overall direction of the action. Overall, an interesting read. Thank you to Brad Ricca, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an eGalley of this work. I did not receive anything for this review and it is an honest review containing my opinions.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve Blackburn

    In 1909 Montague Parker, the younger brother of the English Earl of Morley, led an expedition to Jerusalem in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Parker was backed by a syndicate of upper crust Englishmen. The whole undertaking was based on the work of a Finnish academic, Dr. Valter Juvelius, who claims to have discovered a code - a cypher - within the Old Testament which revealed the Ark's location. I am sure that there is a worthwhile book to be had from the 1909 expedition, but for me, Brad Ric In 1909 Montague Parker, the younger brother of the English Earl of Morley, led an expedition to Jerusalem in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Parker was backed by a syndicate of upper crust Englishmen. The whole undertaking was based on the work of a Finnish academic, Dr. Valter Juvelius, who claims to have discovered a code - a cypher - within the Old Testament which revealed the Ark's location. I am sure that there is a worthwhile book to be had from the 1909 expedition, but for me, Brad Ricca's True Raiders is not it. The book is categorized as a biography (of Parker I suppose), but it's written as narrative nonfiction, with invented scenes and dialogue to move the story along. While that approach might have worked, unfortunately the main story is told from different perspectives, involving multiple characters (some of whom are only tangentially involved), and interspersed with flashbacks to an earlier English expedition. The result is a book that is very disjointed, hard to read, and for me very hard to get wrapped up in. While I had problems with the author's approach to the story, I am also not really a fan of the way this particular expedition took place. First, there were no archaeologists brought in. An amateur archeologist, Father Vincent, volunteered on site and was allowed to participate, but was never told the true nature of the expedition (that they were searching for the Ark). And that's the second thing - Parker, his crew and syndicate all kept their purpose under wraps. Their estimate of the worth of the Ark meant they'd have competition if word got out. So they lied to the Ottoman government (responsible for Jerusalem at the time), the local mayor, the local people, and those they hired to do the digging they required. If they had found the Ark they would have smuggled it out of the country, in contravention of Ottoman law. And to top it all off they secretly excavated beneath a Muslim holy place, and when caught at this had to flee the country. So it wasn't a particularly ethical expedition, but rather one that reeked of entitlement and empirical hubris. Given all that, it's hard to root for Parker and company while reading this book, even if you do want to see where their efforts are going to lead. There were a couple of points where I wanted to just put the book down, but it takes a lot for me to not finish a book, and there was just enough here to keep me going. I was really intrigued by the premise of this book and looked forward to reading it. But I cannot really recommend it. I give True Raiders Two Stars ⭐⭐. NOTE: I received an advanced reviewer's copy of this book through NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. This hardcover and audiobook editions are available September 21, 2020.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    Remember being captivated by the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? The tag line for the movie was, “ "The creators of JAWS and STAR WARS now bring you the ultimate hero in the ultimate adventure." Actually, Author Brad Ricca is the one who is revealing the ultimate hero in a fascinating adventure. “True Raiders” is every bit as exciting as any movie could be as it shines a light on the real adventurers who sought to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant. In the early 1900’s, devil-may-care English n Remember being captivated by the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? The tag line for the movie was, “ "The creators of JAWS and STAR WARS now bring you the ultimate hero in the ultimate adventure." Actually, Author Brad Ricca is the one who is revealing the ultimate hero in a fascinating adventure. “True Raiders” is every bit as exciting as any movie could be as it shines a light on the real adventurers who sought to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant. In the early 1900’s, devil-may-care English nobleman and soldier, Montagu Parker was asked to join a syndicate to lead an expedition to Jerusalem to find the Ark. The adventurers were guided by a complex cipher supposedly hidden in the Biblical book of Ezekiel. In 1909, the search through the tunnels, including the Hezekiah Tunnel, under the King Solomon’s temple, and Dome of the Mount began. Rubble was cleared, tunnels were opened, ancient pottery was uncovered, water was diverted, many intriguing people were involved. But did they find the Lost Ark of the C0venant? Were the adventurers searching for the lost Ark for fun or profit? A bit of both, especially at the start, but as the search and excavations continued, many involved with the project became enamored with the historical power and romance of finding the Ark. This book brings these hale explorers to life and evokes the place and period with vivid descriptions. From Ava Astor to a Franciscan Father, there is plenty to love about this adventure biography. One person who is a small part of the story especially interested me-Bertha Vester. If you know the hymn “It is Well with My Soul”, written by her father, then you will be amazed to learn what happened to Bertha and her family, “the rest of the story” that continues today. At times, a bit hard to follow, this turn out t be an enjoyable and very positive book. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance review copy. This is my honest review. The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this archeological historical adventure. As Professor Brad Ricca proves in his book True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant real life can be more fascinating and interesting than the movies could ever be. Lacking only a pit of snakes and large rolling boulder this true story of an attempting to find the lost Ark of the Covenant is an educational and yet fun r My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this archeological historical adventure. As Professor Brad Ricca proves in his book True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant real life can be more fascinating and interesting than the movies could ever be. Lacking only a pit of snakes and large rolling boulder this true story of an attempting to find the lost Ark of the Covenant is an educational and yet fun romp. Written with a touch more historical fiction than historical fact, conversations seem a little to modern for the time, an more complete than a journal entry or letter could convey, the book moves well and is absorbing. A gentleman with a military past and ties to upper classes of British culture is hired by a group of businessmen, calling themselves the Syndicate find the missing Ark in the city of Jerusalem. The location of the ark a professor who has discovered a new way of reading the Bible based on code breaking skills. Right there is the opening act of your movie. Joined by other men of adventure the group, after raising funds travels to Jerusalem to being the excavation. A friendly priest, who knows archeology, a riled populous, spies, and liars, backstabbers and lovers, all make appearances. Holes are dug, relations strained, paranoia grows, even a little cultural trespassing. All things that make the readers stay enthralled and flip pages to the end. The ending I won't ruin, though the story tying into the author in a movie theater is quite funny. A good read for armchair adventurers and fans of archeology.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    The movie RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK brought the Ark of the Covenant back to the public eye. For those of you who do not know for one reason or another, the Ark of the Covenant is the chest that holds the tablet the Ten Commandments were written on. It is said that the army that carries the ark before it is invincible. Unfortunately, the Ark has been lost for centuries. In 1909, Montague Parker led an expedition to Jerusalem to find the Ark. He did this pretty much on a dare from Ava Astor, consider The movie RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK brought the Ark of the Covenant back to the public eye. For those of you who do not know for one reason or another, the Ark of the Covenant is the chest that holds the tablet the Ten Commandments were written on. It is said that the army that carries the ark before it is invincible. Unfortunately, the Ark has been lost for centuries. In 1909, Montague Parker led an expedition to Jerusalem to find the Ark. He did this pretty much on a dare from Ava Astor, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world, and a woman he really wanted to impress. He and his team pick up where the Warren expedition of 1848 left off. This is an expedition where just about anything can happen, and in some cases does. It has everything you can expect from an adventure of this under taking: beautiful women, spies, ciphers, battling the elements, riots from the locals, you name it and it pretty much happens. Along the way, some major events in history come in to play, from Jack the Ripper, to the sinking of the RMS Titanic to World War I and beyond is here! I will be the first to admit that I was beyond excited when this book first appeared on my social media feeds. I could not wait for it to come out! I snatched it up on the day it was released, and I am beyond happy with having read it. I can honestly say this is the book I have been waiting all year to read, the one to give me my first major bookgasm! This is not a book to be missed! I give it 5 out of 5 bookmarks!

  30. 5 out of 5

    William Harris

    Having read through an ARC of "True Raiders," written by Brad Ricca and being published by St. Martin's Press (which provided me with the ARC), I am somewhat surprised to report that the book is both informative, charming, and redolent of a prose style which I most often associate with writers from an earlier time. The book, which reads like a rather ponderous novel at first (it is, in fact well grounded in reality), really hits its stride by the midpoint (by which time I was thinking of it as a Having read through an ARC of "True Raiders," written by Brad Ricca and being published by St. Martin's Press (which provided me with the ARC), I am somewhat surprised to report that the book is both informative, charming, and redolent of a prose style which I most often associate with writers from an earlier time. The book, which reads like a rather ponderous novel at first (it is, in fact well grounded in reality), really hits its stride by the midpoint (by which time I was thinking of it as a novel). It focuses on an early twentieth century archaeological dig in and around Jerusalem prompted by a search for the Ark of the Covenant. As the story progresses, it assembles a colorful cast of adventurers, including Turkish politicians, a Jerusalem Rabbi, an assortment of former soldiers with broad imperial experience, a group of American expatriates in Jerusalem, and cameos by a number of prominent figures in Edwardian Britain. By the time the cast is assembled and the project gets well underway, the text gains enough momentum to hold the reader's attention. It is particularly fascinating for its insights into Biblical scholarship and its intersection with modern archaeology. By the end, all strands of the rather convoluted tale are brought to a most satisfactory, and not particularly surprising ending. Well worth the read for fans of Indiana Jones and would be archaeologists!

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