Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
Random House: 6/16/2015
eBook review copy, 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781400063369
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson is a very highly recommended, fascinating look inside the search for the pirate ship the Golden Fleece.
The Golden Fleece was the ship of a pirate captain more
notorious than Blackbeard and more daring than
William Kidd, a real-life Jack Sparrow, a man who’d been legend but
whose story had been lost to time: the buccaneer Joseph Bannister.
Bannister was an English merchant captain who turned pirate. His ship
sunk in the 1680s somewhere off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
Robert Kurson tells how John Chatterton and John Mattera are hired by
well-known treasure hunter Tracy Bowden, and how, undeterred by the
many obstacles they faced, they conducted the search for the Golden Fleece.
If they find the ship it will be only the second time in history that a
pirate ship has been found and positively identified. Their quest was
difficult though, and the price they paid while searching and even to
the present day was high. They had to get into the mind of pirate Joseph
Bannister to uncover the clues that could lead to the discovery of the Golden Fleece.
Bowden provided them with some clues that
helped narrow the search: the Golden Fleece had sunk in
twenty-four feet of water, had muskets scattered on her deck, and had
careening when confronted by the Royal Navy warships. The information
that she had been careening was the most important. Kurson explains that
careening was done to clean and repair hulls from damage done by
Teredo shipworms, barnacles, and other marine life that
attached to the underside of a vessel’s hull. To careen, crews beached
ships at high tide, and then tilted them onto their sides as the water
out. If the Golden Fleece had been
sunk while careening, it meant she would likely be found near a beach.
While describing the present day search, struggles, the research, and
the threats to their project, Kurson chronicles the biographical
background information on Bannister, Chatterton, and Mattera. He also
presents the facts about pirates and separates them from the many
This is a well written, informative, thoroughly entertaining nonfiction
adventure story that should capture the imagination of anyone
interested in the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1720) or deep sea diving or
treasure hunting. It is a present day quest for the Golden Fleece.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Random House for review