The Secret Price of History

Searching for the Treasure behind Alexander's Medallion

Fiction - Mystery - Historical
586 Pages
Reviewed on 02/04/2015
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Author Biography

Gayle Ridinger was born in the United States and graduated from Oberlin College. She worked as a newspaper reporter before moving to Milan, Italy in 1981. She presently teaches English and translation techniques at an Italian university. She translated and co-edited the bilingual anthology, ITALIAN POETRY 1950-1990 (Branden/Dante University Press, Boston, 1996), and her translation of SHAVINGS, prose poems by Camillo Sbarbaro, was published by Chelsea Editions, New York, in 2006. She received the “National Translation Prize” from the Italian Ministry of Culture in 1997, and was named Knight of the Star Order of Italian Solidarity by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003. Her children’s book, A STAR AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, was published in 2001 in Italian (Edizioni Arka), and subsequently in Greek, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and English (Gareth Stevens-USA).
Her father’s family is from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and she spent numerous summers there, hearing about the Civil War from family members who were battlefield guides, including a great uncle who had the honour of escorting President and Mrs. Kennedy on their visit.

Paolo Pochettino was born in Milan, Italy, where he studied the classics at secondary school and graduated in mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan. For years he worked as an industrial manager, and during his career lived in Holland, the United States, France, and India. A long-time distance runner (with 8 marathons to his credit) as well as Himalayan mountain hiker and extensive world traveller, he has survived a plane hijacking and the revolts in Sudan and Yemen. An avid fan of cinema, he co-authored in 1998 the sci-fi movie guidebook IL FILM DI FANTASCIENZA (A. Vallardi Editore, Milan, Italy).
Of Piedmontese background, he has always had a passionate interest in the bloody Risorgimento battles of this region.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Steve Lindahl for Readers' Favorite

The Secret Price of History: Searching for the Treasure behind Alexander's Medallion by Gayle Ridinger and Paolo Pochettino has a complex plot that should grab any reader with an interest in history. It jumps back and forth between 19th century and 21st century adventures by following a medallion along with the people who possessed it and the people who searched for it during those two centuries. The story, in both centuries, is about the search for Alexander the Great's third treasure and the role the medallion plays in that search. It's also a detective story because the people searching for that treasure commit horrible crimes and need to be caught. These two mysteries are well written adventures that capture readers and keep them involved in the plot of a fairly long book.

Angie Cebrelli is a TV weather girl who spices up her spots by dressing as historical characters. When she decides to broadcast from a Civil War reenactment at Gettysburg, she chooses the outfit of her ancestor, an Italian immigrant who fought in that battle with the Garibaldi Guards, a group of soldiers with war experience from the Battle for the Roman Republic in Italy. She wears the red shirt that was the symbol for those soldiers, along with a medallion that has been in her family for generations. A bullet hits Angie's arm from someone using live ammunition. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan comes to her aid, but while the man is applying a tourniquet, another man tries to steal her medallion. Here's where Angie's portion of the story takes off as Angie begins her quest to learn why.

The Secret Price of History covers the 19th century Battle for the Roman Republic in great detail and touches on the American Civil War. (There is a wonderful description of the Battle of Gettysburg late in the book.) It also covers the ancient religion of Mithraism and touches on other philosophies such as Transcendentalism. Ridinger and Pochettino's research seems thorough. The Roman Republic (19th century) and the battle to secure it are subjects I have never studied, so that made the story even more interesting to me. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes historical fiction.

a review by Carol Squire

Many treasures to be found in The Secret Price of History, November 17, 2014
Carol Squire - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Price of History: Searching for the Treasure behind Alexander's Medallion (Kindle Edition)
It is not surprising to see the 5 star ratings from all reviewers: this book tells a great story that actually tells us of a lesser known history. I was fascinated by the garibaldini's impact on both European and American politics and left wondering how I'd never known of it before. The widely-flung periods and perspectives are anchored around a trio of courageous yet imperfect heroes -- much more than a love triangle, these two men and one woman are held by cords of respect, loyalty and a sense of duty to something larger than themselves. Their stories, their impossible choices and their character have stayed with me in the month since I finished The Secret Price of History. The metaphor of treasure hunting and its consequences is beautifully, almost mysteriously evoked.

Nicholas Isherwood

This is an historical novel that is hard to put down, not unlike The Name of the Rose. Written in a clear, yet eloquent style and impeccably researched, it is receiving the success it deserves.


This is a great read! Smart, well-paced, well-written, meticulously researched with an eye to invention, this book entertains and informs at the same time, while managing to be a can't-put-it-down page-turner. The shifts among different points in linear time are effortlessly managed and remain believable in their own right. One of the best things to be said is that it leaves one wanting more: more about the characters, more about the Risorgimento and Margaret Fuller's all too little known involvement, and most of all - more from this gifted writing team!


THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY offers entralling looks into the past and present in Italy and America as its mystery evolves and the two plots thicken and intertwine. I really like how the main characters' stories rotate, draw you in, and never drag. The heroines in the two stories, Eleonora and her -great great-granddaughter Angie, are the kind of strong women you can identify with and I found myself thinking about their experiences even during my normal day. A pleasure to read.

Andrea M.

I am not going to give the ending away but I must say I found it original and satisfying. The secret price of history indeed!

Sue Wolff Kamphuis

Was captured by the book from the first chapter. The book club will be reading it this year.


The story is about linking the 19th Century real and fictional characters and 21st century fictional characters with a gold medallion. The authors have done a great work of inter weaving and brilliantly using the period of Garibaldi who is on his way to unify Italy from the opposition of Napoleon III.

Three marvelous characters Eleonora Serlupi, Gofferdo and Sandor gets introduced. Gofferdo is cheese maker and Sandor is a militant, an Hungarian. Both Gofferdo and Sandor Kemenj takes part in Garibaldi's battles, Eleonora nurses the wounded. A triangle love is formed, they get a gold medallion and vial from a church which they share among themselves.

The medal becomes a curse, unknown to them what secret the medal holds. Napoleon III and his emissaries are in search of the medal which holds the treasure, the treasure which dates back to the period of Darius III who hides it before the attack of Alexander the Great. Gerard Audeoud one of the emissary of Napoleon III tries his best for the medallion but was killed.

The story flows back and forth from 19th century to 21st century. In present day the gold medallion is with the family of Eleonora, Angie Cebrelli. She happens to see the news of a person been murdered in Mithreaum temple and a photo copy of the gold medallion. That persons family helps Angie for her travel plans.

An Indian, Arjan Gupta who is a professor and his friend Damien Brandeau an American citizen in Italy doing archaeological findings were researching about the lost medallion. They get in touch with Angie. Subsequently Vatican's inner echelon and Damien's father and his sister are after the treasure.

Angie was attacked and Dardanoni the inspector provides help and understands the significance of the Alexanders medallion and its rich treasure. Did they solved the mystery, how the medallion lands into Eleonora, what happened to Sandor and Gofferdo, what happens to the greedy Suzanne Brandeau and Marc Alexander Brandeau forms the remaining part of the story. The ending is perfect.

I liked the Eleonora character, she is strong and unpredictable, she actively takes part with Red shirts in Italy and as well as to support for Garibaldi in America. Like real life her character, in her final years loses her interest in politics and retires calmly she often takes long walks.

Some quotes I like to share from the book "The Secret Price of History" are:

Science is only a weapon in the hands of the atheists.

Faith might be a Christian's armor but his gun was the way to defend that faith against his enemies.