Ralph A. Monaco, II is a lifelong resident of Raytown, Jackson County, Missouri. He earned his undergraduate degrees in history and political science from Rockhurst College in 1978, summa cum laude. He received his juris doctorate degree from U.M.K.C. Law School in 1981. He has been a practicing attorney for nearly thirty-seven years, and is a Member of the law firm of Monaco, Sanders, Racine, Powell & Reidy, L.C. Monaco has a long-standing record of public service. He served six years on the Raytown School Board, which included service as Board President. He then served four terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, which included, serving as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and where he received multiple outstanding legislative awards. He currently serves on the Elected Officials Compensation Committee for the City of Raytown.
He has also been actively involved in community service. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Three Trials Museum in Independence and the Jackson County Historical Society (JCHS), where he is Past President.
Monaco is known as a living historian and public speaker, earning him several awards for historical portrayals and presentations. These have included the Outstanding Service Award from the Jackson County Heritage Programs & Museums; the JCHS Making History Come Alive Award; Pioneer of Harrodsburg, Kentucky Award; the Outstanding Service Award Jesse James, Whiskeyhead Ryan & the Glendale Trail Robbery 240 from Jackson County Parks & Recreation; the 2012 John Edward Newman’s Literary Award from the Friends of the James Farm; the 2013 JCHS Book of the Year Award, and, the 2017 Quentrillian Book of the Year Award.
Monaco has previously written six, non-fiction books: The Strange Story of Col. Swope & Dr. Hyde (2010); Son of a Bandit: Jesse James & The Leeds Gang (2012); Blood on the Street: The Civil War Comes to Jackson County, Missouri, August 1862 (2012); Scattered to the Four Winds: General Order No. 11 and Martial Law in Jackson County, Missouri, 1863 (2013), Last Hand at Park Manor (2015) and The Bandit Rides Again, Jesse James, Whiskeyhead Ryan & The Glendale Train Robbery (2017).
In addition, he has produced several living history programs, including the Arraignment of Frank James (2006); Murder of Marshal Bugler at the 1859 Jail (2009); the 1866 election of George Caleb Bingham (2011); the First Battle of Independence Living History Program (2012); Order Number 11, a living history trilogy (2013), and the Battle of Westport historic lecture series (2014).
He has provided first-person portrayals of several historical figures throughout the years, including attorney Abram Comingo; Manuel de Lisa; Col. Thomas Hunton Swope; George Caleb Bingham; Father Bernard Donnelly; James Slover; Alexander Doniphan; and, Edgar Allan Poe. He has also written and directed numerous mock re-trials, including: State v. Frank James for the Winston Train Robbery (1999); State v. C. Bennett Hyde, for the alleged murder of Kansas City philanthropist, Col. Thomas H. Swope (2000 & 2010); State v. Jesse Edward James, for the alleged train robbery at Leeds Junction (2012); State v. Myrtle Bennett, for the alleged murder of her husband John (2015); and, State v. Bill Ryan, (2017) for the 1879 Glendale Train Robbery.
He and his wife Karen live in Raytown where he is a lifetime member of the Raytown Historical Society. They have two daughters, Lindsay (and husband Keith Fangman), and Lisa (and husband Paul Anderson)—who have made him a first time, proud grandpa of little Noah Douglas, to whom his latest book is proudly dedicated.