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Pirate Hunters

Cover of Pirate Hunters

Pirate Hunters

Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE • A thrilling adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of Shadow Divers
    Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister should have been immortalized in the lore of the sea—his exploits more notorious than Blackbeard's, more daring than Kidd's. But his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren't enough to track down Bannister's ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate's exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it's only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.
    Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.
    Praise for Pirate Hunters

    "You won't want to put [it] down."Los Angeles Times
    "An exceptional adventure . . . Highly recommended to readers who delight in adventure, suspense, and the thrill of discovering history at their fingertips."Library Journal (starred review)
    "A terrific read . . . The book gallops along at a blistering pace, shifting us deftly between the seventeenth century and the present day."Diver
    "Nonfiction with the trademarks of a novel: the plots and subplots, the tension and suspense . . . [Kurson has] found gold."The Dallas Morning News
    "Rollicking . . . a fascinating [story] about the world of pirates, piracy, and priceless treasures."The Boston Globe
    "[Kurson's] narration is just as engrossing as the subject."The Christian Science Monitor
    "A wild ride [and an] extraordinary adventure . . . Kurson's own enthusiasm, combined with his copious research and an eye for detail, makes for one of the most mind-blowing pirate stories of recent memory, one that even the staunchest landlubber will have a hard time putting down."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
    "The two contemporary pirate-ship seekers of Mr. Kurson's narrative are as daring, intrepid, tough and talented as Blood and Sparrow—and Bannister. . . . As depicted by the author, they are real-life Hemingway heroes."The Wall Street Journal
    "[Kurson] takes his knowledge of the underwater world and applies it to the 'Golden Age of Piracy' . . . thrillingly detailing the highs and lows of chasing not just gold and silver but also history."Booklist
    "A great thriller full of tough guys and long odds . . . and: It's all true."—Lee Child
    From the Hardcover edition.
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE • A thrilling adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of Shadow Divers
    Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister should have been immortalized in the lore of the sea—his exploits more notorious than Blackbeard's, more daring than Kidd's. But his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren't enough to track down Bannister's ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate's exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it's only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.
    Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.
    Praise for Pirate Hunters

    "You won't want to put [it] down."Los Angeles Times
    "An exceptional adventure . . . Highly recommended to readers who delight in adventure, suspense, and the thrill of discovering history at their fingertips."Library Journal (starred review)
    "A terrific read . . . The book gallops along at a blistering pace, shifting us deftly between the seventeenth century and the present day."Diver
    "Nonfiction with the trademarks of a novel: the plots and subplots, the tension and suspense . . . [Kurson has] found gold."The Dallas Morning News
    "Rollicking . . . a fascinating [story] about the world of pirates, piracy, and priceless treasures."The Boston Globe
    "[Kurson's] narration is just as engrossing as the subject."The Christian Science Monitor
    "A wild ride [and an] extraordinary adventure . . . Kurson's own enthusiasm, combined with his copious research and an eye for detail, makes for one of the most mind-blowing pirate stories of recent memory, one that even the staunchest landlubber will have a hard time putting down."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
    "The two contemporary pirate-ship seekers of Mr. Kurson's narrative are as daring, intrepid, tough and talented as Blood and Sparrow—and Bannister. . . . As depicted by the author, they are real-life Hemingway heroes."The Wall Street Journal
    "[Kurson] takes his knowledge of the underwater world and applies it to the 'Golden Age of Piracy' . . . thrillingly detailing the highs and lows of chasing not just gold and silver but also history."Booklist
    "A great thriller full of tough guys and long odds . . . and: It's all true."—Lee Child
    From the Hardcover edition.
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    • From the cover By 1684, Bannister had been making the London–Jamaica run for at least four years, delivering his cargos and building his reputation. In June of that year, however, the lord president of the Council of Jamaica received a disturbing letter from the island's governor, Thomas Lynch: "One Bannister ran away with a ship, the Golden Fleece, of thirty or forty guns, picked up over a hundred men from sloops and from lee- ward [at Port Royal], and has got a French commission."
      Bannister, in fact, had no commission, but he most certainly had stolen the Golden Fleece, and he'd done so with a single purpose—to turn pirate. His actions hardly could have been bolder. It was near unheard of for a transatlantic captain, especially one as well regarded and trusted as Bannister, to "go on the account," as it was said of pirating. Even in Port Royal, where everything happened, few had seen anything like this.

      Lynch didn't sit around and wait for Bannister to return to his senses. Instead, he ordered the Ruby, the biggest and deadliest war- ship in the Jamaica fleet, to go after the Golden Fleece. A monster rated at 540 tons, with forty-eight cannons and a crew of 150, the Ruby was a pirate killer down to her timbers.

      Bannister did not intend to make it easy for Lynch's enforcers. Since stealing the Golden Fleece, he had picked up additional crew, robbed a Spanish vessel, and made his way to the Cayman Islands to take turtles and gather wood. But the Ruby surprised him there, and her captain, David Mitchell, and his crew captured Bannister and put an end to his six-week pirate career.
      Lynch was delighted.

      "Last night," he wrote, "the Ruby brought in Bannister. He took him at Caymanos; he has about 115 men on board, most of the veriest rogues in these Indies. I have ordered the ship and the men to be de- livered into the Admiralty and commanded the judge immediately to proceed against them, because we do not know how to secure or keep such a number. We conclude they'll be found guilty of piracy."

      The case against Bannister was airtight. Not only had he stolen the Golden Fleece, he had taken two Spaniards captive after attacking their boat. The testimony of those two men alone would secure a conviction. By now, Bannister could only hope for leniency, but if he expected it, he'd chosen the wrong governor under which to become pirate.

      "I intend if it proves so to make a terrible example of the captain, his lieutenant, officers, and all the men that have committed other crimes as many of them have," Lynch wrote, "and hope the severity may have some influence on the other rogues that swarm in these In- dies."
      By that, Lynch meant Bannister would hang. His crew, if lucky, might be whipped, jailed, or put into irons or stockades. If unlucky, they might follow Bannister to the gallows.

      The pirates were returned to Port Royal and held aboard the Ruby pending trial. One might have expected Bannister to use the time to pen letters of good-bye or to contemplate eternity; instead, he waited for a break in his captors' attention, then managed to get word to on- shore associates to bribe the two Spanish witnesses against him. It was an audacious plan and one that, even if the connections were made, seemed doomed given that the Spaniards had been rescued by the Royal Navy.

      At trial, a strong case was made against the pirates. But when it came time for the Spaniards to testify, they swore "backward and for- ward" that they had sold their boat and cargo to Bannister, and that he had paid them to serve as crew aboard the Golden Fleece.

      If that testimony...
    About the Author-
    • Robert Kurson is the author of the runaway bestseller Shadow Divers, and Crashing Through.
    Reviews-
    • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Ray Porter's deep, resonant voice works well with this swashbuckling story of two pirate ship hunters, John Chatterton and John Mattera, who are hot on the trail of a famous seventeenth-century wreck that was captained by one of the most notorious pirates that few people have ever heard of, Joseph Bannister. The story's twists and turns take the two around the globe, but they don't succeed in their endeavor until they start thinking like pirates themselves. Porter gets excited when the action calls for it and does enough with his character voices to keep things interesting. R.I.G. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
    • Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Riptide and The Lost Island "A great thriller full of tough guys and long odds . . . and: It's all true."--Lee Child

      "Pirate Hunters is a fantastic book, an utterly engrossing and satisfying read. It tells the story of the hunt for the rare wreck of a pirate ship, which had been captained by one of the most remarkable pirates in history. This is a real-life Treasure Island, complete with swashbuckling, half-crazy treasure hunters and vivid Caribbean settings--a story for the ages."
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      Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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      All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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    Pirate Hunters
    Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
    Robert Kurson
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