Monday, September 21, 2015

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson was a really entertaining book about accomplished scuba diving deep sea explorers and the search for a sunken pirate ship, the Golden Fleece, a vessel helmed by pirate Joseph Bannister during the golden age of piracy between 1650 and 1720.

Only one pirate shipwreck had been previously discovered and the book was very history-focused with divers John Chatterton and John Mattera trying to figure out Bannister in order to discern where he may have taken his ship and it was ultimately sunk. Chatterton was featured in Kurson's book Shadow Divers and he and Mattera were told about the Fleece by legendary treasure hunter Tracy Bowden. The deal that Bowden made is he'd give the two men 20% of the Fleece if they found it for him and Kurson repeatedly wrote, though, of how for the two searchers, it was more about the quest for discovery than riches.

The stories of both Chatterton and Mattera are remarkable, with Chatterton volunteering to serve as a medic in Vietnam and who led patrols there and Mattera growing up around the New York mafia and then becoming a cop, contractor for the U.S. government and then executive & celebrity bodyguard. Kurson also recounted how while searching for the Fleece, twice the men faced potential death twice from armed bandits in the Dominican.

While the book was excellent overall, the ending with litigation rearing it's head felt somewhat disappointing, more a function, though, of how true stories sometimes go than anything Kurson should have done different in the writing.