Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Raiders of the Hidden Ark: The Story of the Parker Expedition to Jerusalem by Graham Addison

What Da Cover Says: Where is the Ark of the Covenant? One of the Bible’s most sacred and powerful objects has not been seen for over 2,500 years. The missing Ark has inspired many quests and even a famous film.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the quests to find the Ark is the Parker expedition. Its story seems stranger than fiction and includes aristocrats, poets, psychics, secret cyphers in the Bible, a deadly curse, bribery, gun-running, riots, and madness. It sounds unbelievable but the Parker expedition is real. Rudyard Kipling, who knew several expedition members, wrote ‘Talk of fiction! Fiction isn’t in it’.

In 1908, a Finnish scholar convinced a group of young Englishmen from wealthy and titled families he had uncovered secret cyphers in the Bible showing where the Ark was hidden. They were educated at Eton, had fought in elite units of the British military and socialised with European royalty and wealthy Americans. One had thwarted an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria. Another had helped spark the Boer War. Most of the funding came from the family of one of the richest men to have ever lived in Australia. With them were a Swiss psychic, a Finnish poet, and a Swedish captain who had experienced the darkest heart of colonial madness in the Belgian Congo. They headed for Jerusalem on a private yacht to dig for the Ark.

They spent a fortune and in the course of their years searching for the Ark they unwittingly ‘scattered sparks in the religious tinder-heap’ that is Jerusalem. The expedition still has echoes today. They caused riots and disorder resulting in a parliamentary enquiry and headlines around the world.

What I Says: Like most people I have heard of the Ark of the Covenant, that heroic fella Indiana Jones managed to survive it’s opening by closing his eyes, what I hadn’t heard of was the Parker Expedition and the impact they had during their dodgy as hell search for the Ark at the beginning of the 20th century. Parker and his posh Etonian mates were drawn into the mystery of a hidden message in the Bible and soon were purchasing land in Jerusalem to see if they could be the ones to finally locate it.

Addison has done an amazing amount of research to try and get to the truth of this story, I can just imagine him surrounded by stacks and stacks of paper trying to make sense of it all and to find a way of getting it all written down in a way that makes sense. I have to admit that I kept feeling like he was including too much background info before getting to the dig itself, but I was wrong as it worked, you really get to know the main players and this helps you understand why they were so committed to an adventure like this, at times putting their lives at risk, most of them didn’t need money so what were their reasons? Addison’s research does a great job of explaining that and his sense of humour really helps too. I loved his description of the whole thing being like Downton Abbey meets Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown, that’s the best description you’re gonna get of this adventure.

At first their dig goes well, they are doing a lot of good for the locals and everybody is happy, soon real world events start to affect them and desperation kicks in and they cross a line that ends up causing international outrage (I shan’t say anymore as it will ruin the reading experience). Of course they don’t find the Ark otherwise you would have heard of it being on display somewhere. The end of the book covers some of the theories of it’s whereabouts, the sort of theories that could take you down a rabbit hole of conspiracies. If only Parker and his mates had looked on eBay, I found this one on there for 35 quid!

Pretty sure it is being sold by this guy:

I have really enjoyed this, there so much to learn, not just about the Ark but the people involved with it’s search, you can’t fault the research and it was great that Addison included so many photos. I felt there was one thing missing though, maps, I would have liked to see where it was they dug, there were a few drawings of the tunnels but not clear enough to understand what was going on. A fantastic and intriguing story that is well written, I would highly recommend this.

This is my stop of the blog tour, make sure to check out the others.

6 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Raiders of the Hidden Ark: The Story of the Parker Expedition to Jerusalem by Graham Addison

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