TRUE RAIDERS is the untold true story of Monty Parker, a rogue British 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.
Alongside a strange Finnish scholar named Valter Juvelius who claimed to have discovered a secret code in the Bible that revealed the location of the Ark, Monty assembled a ragtag group of blueblood soldiers, psychics, and a one-of-a-kind Dominican priest, all to engage in a secret excavation just outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Using recently uncovered records from the original expedition and several newly translated sources, TRUE RAIDERS is the first comprehensive telling of this group’s adventure as it unfolds in the strange space between fact and faith, truth and fiction, science and conspiracy.
An Unlikely Adventurer
A MYSTERIOUS Code
HISTORY'S Greatest Prize
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
St. Martin's Press
"My favorite sort of woman . . . a heroine for the ages."
—Paula McLain, bestselling author of
WHEN THE STARS GO DARK
"Olive the Lionheart has it all."
—Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of
THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY
"Powerful, nearly hallucinatory."
"Fans of women’s history and adventure stories will cheer." —Publisher's Weekly
"Grit and courage to spare . . . one for the books."
A 2020 Amazon Editor's Pick, a Christian Science Monitor
Best Book for August, and a Finalist for the
Ohioana Book Award in Nonfiction.
Now in Paperback
from St. Martin's Griffin
MRS. SHERLOCK HOLMES
Edgar Award Finalist
Best Fact Crime
“An express train of a story."
-Starred review, Kirkus Reviews
"Heroic...her inspiring story demands a hearing.”
―New York Times
“Rambunctiously excellent…his storytelling skills give Humiston’s incredible life the book it deserves.”
―The Christian Science Monitor
Winner, Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction
“A wonderful book, as exciting as Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.”
―Starred review, Booklist
“As definitive a work as may be possible.”
―The Washington Post
“Compulsively readable.” ―Publishers Weekly
Winner, St. Lawrence
"An entertaining, bold, and wholly original collection of poems" - The Rumpus
"A voice and style I’m enthralled to see.”
-Luke Kennard, Notes on the Sonnets
"A bustling, boisterous, mischievous book, the kind of book you should keep on you always, everywhere.”
Faber Poets 3
Originally appeared 9.27.19 on the podcast CRIMINAL with Phoebe Judge and guest Brad Ricca. Visit thisiscriminal.com for more episodes. Art by Julienne Alexander.
I was born in Cleveland and still live around here with Caroline and our three boys in a 100-year-old house. I teach sometimes at Case Western Reserve University, where I earned a Ph.D. in English. I've written Olive the Lionheart (St. Martin's, 2020), Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (St. Martin’s, 2017), Super Boys (St. Martin’s, 2013), and American Mastodon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011). I made a movie, Last Son, that won a 2010 Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival. I've also written for The Beat, Belt, Book Riot, Narratively, History Extra, and the official Star Wars website. I've been in documentaries on the History Channel, AMC, and have been a guest on Criminal, All Things Considered, BBC radio, and Innovation Hub, among others. I hate mummies.
True Raiders is my newest book and is the result of a lifetime of trying to understand the effect that Raiders of the Lost Ark had on me (hint: it was substantial) and how and why we can believe in things that are somehow always beyond our reach, especially if they involve hidden, secret meanings. I also wanted it to be a big, fat love letter to all those great '80s properties like In Search Of, Amazing Stories, and the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, that all used the truth (or a portion of it) to tell a bigger story. And of course, Raiders itself. What does it mean to seek something that no one has seen in thousands of years, if at all? Is it an exercise in fact or faith? Truth or imagination? Or (more timely) reality or conspiracy? Since this story is all about connections, I vowed to follow it wherever the rabbit hole led, all the way from secret tunnels beneath Jerusalem to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean; from King Tut's tomb and Faraday cages on Long Island to the dark streets of terrible Whitechapel, all to find the most sought-after treasure in history -- even if it might be fictional. And to think about if that matters.
The story of the Parker expedition is one told by different people who either believe what they say is true or want us to think it is. There is truth in this story, past all the mystery, but you have to seek it. Just like they did.