The Hunt For History – review


AuthorsNathan Raab / Luke Barr
PublisherScribner (March 10, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook     
ISBN #10 /#131501198904  / 978-1501198908     


Nathan Raab is the Principal of The Raab Collection and an established author. Mr. Raab is a familiar presence in the international media scene and has appeared in several broadcasts, in magazines and periodicals, and online.

Nathan has worked with the Library of Congress, the British Library, and many others. He has advised the descendants of many notable historical figures on the treasures that they have inherited. The Raab Collection has handled manuscripts and artifacts from a rich and diverse range of luminaries. Some of these esteemed historical figures are; Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James K. Polk, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, Gerald Ford, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, senior leadership in the Civil War, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Luke Barr is a New York Times bestselling author and was a features editor. He is known for his titles Ritz & Escoffier and his bestseller Provence, 1970. He worked as an editor at Travel + Leisure magazine. Luke now lives with his wife and their two daughters in Brooklyn. 


The Hunt for History is a cross between a real-life detective story and an Easter Egg Hunt. It is a risky business and the find can sometimes be valued in excess of six figures. If you enjoy the thrill of the chase, the drama of the reveal, or relish the trip through the adventure of the hunt you will love this text. Any history buff, collector of ephemera, antiquarian, museum curator, or student of history will be guaranteed to enjoy and appreciate the skill, hard work, and commitment employed by this family of literary sleuths. Those who are aficionados of fictional characters such as: Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, or Hercule Poirot then this true-life detective story will most certainly fascinate, entertain, and enthrall.

The Raab’s have much to teach their contemporaries about maintaining humanity and ethics in business practice. Nathan Raab goes to great pains to clarify that it is not just the monetary rewards that are important but the legacy that they help hand down to history through their discoveries. The Raab Collection’s ethics seem to be a distinct characteristic that separates the Raab’s from their competition, and it is why the monied class approach them repeatedly to sell, value or auction their family jewels.


The Hunt for History will inevitably be compared to the Raiders of the Lost Ark and for very good reason.

These antiquarian detectives don’t hunt down criminals or solve murders; no, they solve puzzles far more complex than any thought up by the great mystery writers of the past. Their story is every bit as exciting and intense as a Sherlock Holmes tale.

Truth being stranger than fiction; this family of ‘detectives’ are far more skilled, intelligent, analytical, and intuitive than any of their fictional counterparts. Nathan Raab asserts that his success is due in part to the ‘Blink’ moment and a skill impossible to cultivate except through practical experience and the passage of time. These qualities include a detailed and working knowledge of a foreign language (in Nathan’s case that language is French) a good grounding in law, as well as a keen manuscript hunting mentality. It’s these traits that Raab confirms are the key personal characteristics that make the family business so successful. 

Raab takes the reader along on a number of historically important quests for irreplaceable artifact and manuscripts. He describes how his father trained him and how his experiences developed the necessary skills that were essential to search for invaluable artifacts from times long past. Some treasure troves he discovered are so important that they would make even the hardest archivists salivate. Together this family has saved documents that eluded generations of sleuths, in one case they linked a lost document to the Rosetta Stone story.

The Raab family’s dogged determination and intellect often lead to official, personal, and historically significant artifacts and personal property of some of the history’s greatest players being found. They have discovered historic scripts from Kings, presidents and other notables. Although the hunt brings rich rewards financially, this isn’t the sole motivation for the Raab family. This family cares in every sense of the word in the legacy that is often attached to many of the items they manage to recover for posterity.

There is a genuine sense of empathy expressed at the relinquishment of unique and historically important items by those who have owned the various ‘objet d’arts’ over many generations; in one particular case spanning some 400 years. Most of all, it is the chase that will keep you turning the pages as it did for me. I was beguiled by each and every detail of the various reveals. The reader gets a real sense of the ups and downs emotionally and otherwise of the family’s commitment to finding and acquiring important antiquated collectibles.

Raab recounts the family’s investment in time, money, and effort in seeking out elusive historic treasures. The journey is a long one. The excitement grows as one incredible find is usurped by another then another, and they get more extraordinary with each turn of the page.


Put simply, this volume is a rip-roaring tale. If you read no other book in 2020, I highly recommend this one. As a book reviewer, I have only given 3 books a 5-star rating this year, and one of them goes to this work.


My sincere thanks go to: Nathan Raab and Luke Barr, NetGalley, and the publisher, Scribner for affording me the opportunity to review The Hunt For History.


You can find manuscripts they have for sale here:

The Raab Collection provide a PDF advice guide for those elite families who hold valuable items. Download it here or visit their site:

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