Biography & Autobiography - History

The Hunt for History by Nathan Raab

Check out if you like collecting, rare documents, or sweet historical tidbits.

Have you ever been interested in the history behind an object? What about the history of that object? If so, this book is for you. It’s part treasure hunt and part history hunt, trying to find why a document is valuable and where it has been. 

I picked this up because the description peaked my interest. A treasure hunter of historical documents? I’d never heard of such a thing. But at the same time, of course they exist, how else would museums and collectors accumulate their collections? I decided to read because it made me want to learn about the world of rare document collecting. Which is exactly what I got, plus a lot more. 

I was worried this would be a brag-fest of the author’s accomplishments. Then for a few chapters it seemed I was right; especially in one area where he pet-peeves out about the proper handling of old documents, (cue my eye-roll) but once I was past that cringy-ness I was surprised how pleasant of a read it turned out to be. The book dives into little bits of not so well known history. Every single document or item that is brought up is accompanied by the history behind the piece and the provenance: the travels of the actual document from when it was conceived. Some remained in the care of descendants of prominent figures for generations, while some are found in the bottom of an overlooked auction box. But all become treasures in the eyes of the author, and especially his father. This read is not a “can’t put this down” read but more of a “few chapters at a time” read. Thoroughly enjoyable if you’re looking to have a little time travel through history, or if you’ve ever been intrigued by things such as document validation, handwriting analysis, or how history is recovered.