Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

 Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

Publisher: Random House | Genre: Non-Fiction | Source: Publisher| Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For: Blogger Shame

Chatterton and Mattera had moved to the Dominican Republic to search for the treasure ship San Bartolome but with more countries adopting the UNESCO treaty declaring that shipwrecks belonged to the nations that lost them, they knew their window of opportunity could slam shut at any moment. They were determined to find the San Bartolome until a call from Tracey Bowden, a legendary pirate hunter, offered them the opportunity to search for the pirate ship the Golden Fleece.
Unable to refuse the chance to possibly discover an actual pirate ship, both men jumped at the chance and in Pirate Hunters, Robert Kurson brings their search to life as he recounts the perilous journey Chatterton and Mattera signed on for.
I was intrigued by this book from the start; it’s a thrilling true-life mix of adventure, danger, history, mystery, and, of course, pirates. I was also intrigued by the pirate and the ship in question.
In the world of Golden Age Pirates, you don’t hear much about Joseph Bannister or his ship the Golden Fleece. The story of the well-respected merchant captain turned pirate seems to have been buried under the more dangerous and daring tales of ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy, Captain Kidd, and Blackbeard. Until Pirate Hunters, I think I’ve only encountered his name one or twice in the many non-fiction pirate books I’ve read. So, I really enjoyed the way new information about Bannister was delivered in the book. His story wasn’t all laid out from the start, it’s wound in with the story of Chatterton, Mattera, and the search for the ship.
As much as this is a book about hunting pirates, it’s also about the hunters themselves and I really enjoyed getting to know Chatterton and Mattera. Both men have extraordinary stories to tell and I found myself just as intrigued by them as I was by the search. And both men are vastly different in the way that they approach things.
John Chatterton seemed harsh, in your face, aggressive, and a bit of hothead in the way he approached things. While I found his story interesting, he’s not really my cuppa tea but I came away admiring his determination.  
John Mattera’s life story drew me in; he was mixed up in the Gambino crime family before becoming a cop then starting his own personal security business before getting into the dive business fulltime. He was an inquisitive kid obsessed with Jacque Cousteau and determined to find the answers and that drive grew and formed him into a pirate hunter determined to search through dusty, forgotten about annals until he found the information he was searching for.
The search for the Golden Fleece had me at the edge of my seat. When Chatterton and Mattera started this search, only one pirate shipwreck that had been positively identified and that was the Whydah wreck discovered by Barry Clifford in 1984. The only reason it was positively identified was because the ship’s bell had the name of the ship on it. So, both Mattera and Chatterton knew that the chances of making a positive identification was going to be rare and require months of chasing historical documents and paper trails.
While I absolutely loved this book, I was a bit disappointed in the end. There’s so much detail as they look for the Golden Fleece and discover more about Bannister yet when they make the actual discovery the details that was provided probably wouldn’t even fill a thimble. It was 222 pages about the search and only 24 pages and some of that was taken up by snippets of a historical document dealing with Bannister’s last battle.
Overall, Pirate Hunters intrigued me and kept me glued to my seat yet I found I wanted more about the actual discovery.

Do you enjoy reading nonfiction?

Are you a fan of pirates?

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