Monday, June 15, 2015

Pirate Hunters

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
Random House: 6/16/2015
eBook review copy, 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781400063369

My Thoughts:

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 been 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 the ships at high tide, and then tilted them onto their sides as the water went 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 myths.

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 purposes.

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