Wednesday, June 17, 2015

PIRATE HUNTERS by Robert Kurson

PIRATE HUNTERS by Robert Kurson is the true story of the search for a legendary pirate ship, the Golden Fleece, which was captained by the infamous Joseph Bannister but was sunk in a sea battle off what is now the Dominican Republic in the late 1600s. Kurson spices up his story, not just with rum, but shadowy characters out of the “golden age” of piracy, and narrator Ray Porter is up to the task of dispelling the myths of pirates (who didn’t make people walk the plank, but more often shot them and threw them overboard.) Porter spoons out the tricks and treats with the tone of frustration and suspense that the principals (John Chatterton and John Mattera) must have felt in risking their fortunes on finding an extremely rare wreck hidden for centuries, despite charts and sketchy accounts that had rivals searching the wrong plots of undersea landscape for years. Most of the book is about that search on land, at sea, in history books, and the tensions between the men as they argued and planned an expedition to finally find what was under everyone’s noses all along. Since it’s a case that isn’t finished in the courts, or even in years of excavation, recovery, nor cataloging, (not to mention who gets what and when and how much!), it does make sense to focus on what led to the discovery, incorporating the history and legend and myths of pirates. Intrigue, real stories, and a great narrator. Can’t ask for much more. Another pirate book I never forgot was PIRATE HUNTER by Richard Zacks, from 2003, the unbelievable yet true story of Captain Kidd. That’s a book which puts you right on board with a immediacy that’s breathtaking, and twists galore. It’s read with always steady control and engagement by Michael Prichard.

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