Review: Pirate Hunters / by Madeleine


I'm sure many readers can relate -- sometimes, a book catches your eye and finds its way into your hands immediately because you just know you need to read that book right now, while other times a book can catch your eye but has to wait patiently for you to rediscover it. With Pirate Hunters, the latter is true for me. This book first stood out to me as I perused titles for my June Currently Coveting post...last year.

I happened upon it again in a bookstore last week and when I saw it I yelled out, "I've been meaning to read this book!" It went into my stack right then and there (and it didn't hurt that it was on the bargain shelf). I don't reach for nonfiction books often, so when I find one with a premise that interests me, I always want to give it a fair shot so I can (hopefully) recommend it to you!

Thankfully, Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship turned out to be just as enthralling as the title suggests. I love stories of treasure hunting and I was really caught up in the idea that this book told the story of a real life treasure hunt with all of the suspense of a great movie! Pirate Hunters tells the story of John Chatterton and John Mattera, two men who made it their mission to discover a lost Spanish galleon ship that had supposedly sunk off shore of the Dominican Republic. The story behind it takes place in the late 1700's, when a respectable captain-turned-fearsome-pirate named Joseph Bannister had an epic battle with the Royal Navy. In the end, Bannister torched and sunk his own ship, named the Golden Fleece, and both the legend of his pirate career and the ship's treasure were lost to history.

Chatterton and Mattera had both made their names in the diving/treasure hunting business long before this expedition, and reading about their backgrounds and what led them both to this incredibly long and hard search for the Golden Fleece made the stakes feel so real. These men both sacrificed so much of their lives for the chance at discovering this treasure -- failure was not an option that they wanted to consider. Of course, there were plenty of obstacles, both relating to the actual search for the treasure and in terms of funding the trip, dealing with the minimal amenities available in the Dominican Republic, and the long distance relationships that they struggled to maintain. What I loved most about reading this book was the dedication to the discovery -- the personal motivations for both men kept me engaged and wanting to see that their hard work rewarded.

This is a book worth reading, even for those who don't normally read nonfiction. The elements of treasure, history, suspense, danger, and putting-it-all-on-the-line were what drew me in and kept me reading until the very end. Kurson's also written another book featuring Chatterton, Shadow Divers, which I'll be putting on my to-read list.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5

Title: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
Author: Robert Kurson
Publisher: Random House, 2015
Price: $11 on Amazon
ISBN: 0812973693
Format: Hardcover