The Search for the Golden FleeceeBook - 2014
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Ahoy, mateys! If you are looking for the perfect summer read, be it porch, beach or hammock, look no farther. The latest from Robert Kurson (author of Shadow Divers) has it all… adventure, exotic locales, and the mysterious, unbelievable history of the most infamous pirate you’ve never heard of – John Bannister. “John who?”, you ask? Bannister. A respected gentleman and merchant sailor who turned rogue and managed to plunder, rob and fight his way into not very many history books. His ship, The Golden Fleece, was also unknown to all but a few, scuttled after a skirmish with the British Royal Navy in which Bannister once again escaped.
Chatterton, a former host of the History Channel’s Deep Sea Detectives, and Mattera, a former bodyguard with nearly three decades of deep-sea diving under his belt, decided to go after The Golden Fleece when another legendary treasure-hunter, 69-year old Tracy Bowden, let them in on Bannister’s tale. The ship might hold gold doubloons or nothing at all, but it was the genuine article – a pirate ship from the golden age of Caribbean piracy in the late 1680’s. We’re talking Captain Jack Sparrow kind of escapades, without the curses of course – but even so this account of finding the Golden Fleece reads like an action film.
This is partly because Kurson details part of Chatterton and Mattera’s colourful lives. Chatterton served as a medic in Vietnam; Mattera, once in trouble with known crime families in New York City then became a police officer. These stories have little to do with the treasure hunt, until you realize that back in the day, Chatterton and Mattera just may have been pirates themselves. Kurson also takes us back to what it might have been like to sail the Caribbean in the 17th century, describing in detail a hypothetical battle with a pirate ship and the ensuing chaos.
The men spent 2 long years and nearly everything they had in search of Bannister and his Golden Fleece. The search took them from New York to Miami, from the Dominican Republic to Spain and back again, searching through hundreds of documents, many of which had not been handled in centuries. And in the end…
Well, you’ll just have to read this exciting tale yourself. Seek ye a copy of Pirate Hunters at ye olde public librarie under the code, “Shelf Life reviewed”.
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