Monday, January 18, 2021

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


Summary: 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. (Summary and pic from

My Review: I have read a spate of serious books lately, so as I was trying to decide what to read next and if there was something super fun that I could pick up, I remembered how much I loved Shadow Divers and how this book was by the same author about the same diver and another adventure he had. Except this one was about a pirate ship! What is it about pirates that catches the imagination? Idk, but I can tell you that when I remembered that this particular book was on my to-read shelf I immediately put it on hold at my library, and, get this, I even decided that I would do an audio book again! Shadow Divers was so fun as an audio book that I wanted to listen to this one as well. This book is shorter, and so it took me even less time to binge.

Straight up, I am totally into reading about John Chatterton and his interesting dives and finds. I wish I could watch his show, “Deep Sea Detectives,” that is on the History Channel, but it doesn’t appear that it is on one of my many streaming services, which is too bad.

This book is a classic adventure story—pirates, bad guys, good guys, competition, the elements conspiring against the characters, a country that is beautiful and yet difficult to work with, intelligent characters, people at the top of their treasure hunting field…seriously. It’s got it all! I think it is definitely a standalone book, and one that wouldn’t take long at all to read (or listen to, in my case), but I really enjoyed the technical aspects that I learned about in Shadow Divers, as well as the sheer danger that the divers faced. There wasn’t as much discussion about technical diving or anything death-defying, because this was a totally different dive at only 25-40 feet versus hundreds of feet. That changes the elements and danger of the dive. But it doesn’t make this story any less interesting.

One thing I really enjoyed about both books is the back story of the divers and the characters we meet. We’re given enough information that we understand the people, and really care about them and understand where they come from. Kurson does an excellent job of honing in on what is important in someone’s life, and telling a very compelling story of the characters, making them an important part in their own treasure hunt. This seems like something every book tries for, but many don’t succeed.

There are a lot of things that make this book awesome—it tells a captivating story about a super interesting topic (pirate shipwreck!), brings to life a part of history that one probably hadn’t heard about, introduces the reader to interesting people at the top of their field—ones we never would have had access to—and wraps it all in a well-written and exciting package that keeps you page turning until the end!

 If you’re looking for a great distraction that leaves you smarter instead of just a toothache from too much sweetness, this is your book! 

My Rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: There is language and the discussion of pirate amputations is not for the faint of heart!

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