Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship.
Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
By Robert Kurson
Robert Kurson started his career as an attorney after graduating from Harvard Law School and has since written magazine articles and books. Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II (**** Sept/Oct 2004), about a German World War II U-boat that had sunk off the coast of New Jersey, introduced John Chatterton, one of the men featured in his newest book.
THE TOPIC: Two long-time divers and treasure hunters, John Chatterton and John Mattera (a New Yorker familiar with mobsters), hope to find the Golden Fleece, the legendary sunken ship of the infamous 17th-century pirate John Bannister. Now largely forgotten, Bannister's pirate exploits rival those of Blackbeard. Robert Kurson weaves the legend of Bannister into the story of Chatterton and Mattera's quest to find his ship off the coast of the Dominican Republic, a journey that leads them around the world as they research the pirate's exploits, interview experts, and battle with world governments. In telling both Bannister's and his pirate hunters' stories, Kurson blends adventure, history, and psychology to bring the history of pirates alive and make the exploits of modern-day hunters as exciting as any pirate story.
Random House. $28. 304 pages. ISBN: 9781400063369
Boston Globe ****
"Kurson is equally enthusiastic in telling both of these stories and by the end you almost don't care whether Bannister gets captured. Or whether Chatterton and Mattera seize their treasure. As with all the best tales, the journey is far more enjoyable than the ending." DOUG MOST
Christian Science Monitor ****
"It's hard to imagine a more conspicuously romantic topic; Kurson's story features pirate lore and legend, underwater archaeology, a quixotic quest with innumerable perils and pitfalls, and the eventual discovery of lost treasure. His narration is just as engrossing as the subject." NICK ROMEO
Dallas Morning News ****
"[Like] Shadow Divers, it is nonfiction with the trademarks of a novel: the plots and subplots, the tension and suspense, the dialogue and character development, and the all-important tempo that keeps readers reading. Like a good novel, it tells more than one story." BILL STREEVER
Miami Herald ****
"Kurson tells the story skillfully and is at his best in his profiles of the main players. Readers of Shadow Divers will find Mattera's story especially interesting, since we haven't met him before." NANCY KLINGENER
Chicago Tribune ***1/2
"It takes a while for Kurson, an award-winning magazine writer, to hit his stride. But once he does, the book flows effortlessly with information about pirates and their 'golden' age, their evolution into today's AK-47-wielding mercenaries, sidelights about Chatterton and Mattera's crew and the modern technology used to find and excavate the wrecks." LLOYD SACHS
New York Times **1/2
"[A] lot of [excitement] has to be churned up by Mr. Kurson, since the idea of treasure hunting isn't as selfless or noble as what the shadow divers set out to do.... Since the story is relatively thin, especially when compared with that of Shadow Divers, Mr. Kurson opts for frequent digressions" JANET MASLIN
Robert Kurson's enthusiasm for his subjects and the history of pirates adds gravitas to a story that isn't as noble or as hefty as the story of Shadow Hunters. Some critics felt that the macho pursuits of Chatterton and Mattera took awhile to hit their stride but that ultimately the book provides an enjoyable account of adventure in today's modern age. Kurson's storytelling is at his strongest when relating pirate lore and the thrilling history of the dreaded pirate Bannister, although some leaps in logic and extraneous stories meant to flesh out the main story detracted a few critics. But readers hoping for adventure in the seas will find Pirate Hunters a thrilling page-turner.
A timeless book to be read by all
One of the best of its genre
Enjoyable, particularly for fans of the genre
Some problems, approach with caution
Not worth your time