Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
In January 2012, Kurson met with John Chatterton, a scuba diver who discovered a sunken German U-boat off the New Jersey coast, and John Mattera, an executive bodyguard turned diver. Until this meeting, only one pirate shipwreck had been located and positively identified, Black Sam Bellamyís Whydah. Barry Clifford found the wreck in 1984 off Cape Cod.
Finding a pirate ship underwater is like searching for a needle in a haystack. This book is the tale of Chatterton and Matteraís quest to find a legendary pirate ship from the 17th century. It takes place not only in the waters off the Dominican Republic but also through library archives, and they used modern technology and folklore recounted by elder fishermen to find Joseph Bannisterís Golden Fleece. It proves to be a journey laced with danger, mystery, and frustration in a time of shifting sands for treasure hunters like Chatterton and Mattera.
When they began their journey in 2008, they intended to seek out a treasure-laden Spanish galleon that sank in the 1600s. After investing two yearsí worth of research, preparation, and savings, they had no intention of accepting the proposal set forth by Tracy Bowden, a legend in the treasure hunting business. But pirates intrigued both men enough to listen to Bowden. He knew the location of the Golden Fleece, but didnít have or use side-scan sonar and magnetometers. Chatterton and Mattera knew this technology and had such equipment. Neither wished to change their plans. Especially since many countries where the richest treasure wrecks are located were changing salvage laws to make private ventures such as theirs illegal. The treasure aboard the galleon was a known quantity. No one knew whether the pirate ship carried any treasure when she sank. But the lure of pirates proved too great, and they abandoned their original goal to find the Golden Fleece.
But Pirate Hunters is far more than just the search for a pirate ship. It also tells the story of Joseph Bannister, a respected master of a merchant ship who ferried cargoes between London and Jamaica. During the 1680s, he gave up that career to become a pirate and did so by stealing the Golden Fleece. He became a most wanted man, and the Royal Navy thought they had him and his men cornered on an island. The pirate ship sank in the ensuing two-day battle, but the pirates won and Bannister escaped.
Kursonís spellbinding account of this hunt for a pirate and his shipwreck enthralls readers, drawing us deeper and deeper into the search until we feel as if we stand beside Chatterton and Mattera from beginning to end, sharing in their frustration, determination, exhaustion, and elation. Equally compelling are the life stories of these two men and how they came to be partners. What makes this account even more intriguing is that most people have never heard of this buccaneer, his exploits, or his daring escape from certain death. Pirate Hunters is swashbuckling adventure at its best, and the fact that itís all true is icing on the cake.
Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar
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