Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the 18th-Century to the Present Day” as Want to Read:
The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the 18th-Century to the Present Day
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the 18th-Century to the Present Day

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  94 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Bella Bathurst's first book, the acclaimed The Lighthouse Stevensons,told the story of Scottish lighthouse construction by the ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson. Now she returns to the sea to search out the darker side of those lights, detailing the secret history of shipwrecks and the predatory scavengers who live off the spoils. Even today, Britain's coastline remains ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 14th 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wreckers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Wreckers

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 05, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Excellent book journey round Britain's coastline and investigates the reasons for wrecking cultural and geographical very enjoyable read and makes you look at the shoreline in a different way..
If you enjoy this read the earlier Lighthouse Stephenson's ...
Makes history interesting without any dumming down..
Stephen Makin
Jun 06, 2015 Stephen Makin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing Book.

I brought 'The Wreckers' from the shop at the Scottish Lighthouse Museum in Fraserburgh. I had read Bathhurts previous book - 'The Lighthouse Stevensons' a few years ago and knew she was an excellent storyteller. Her research is very good, and her prose flows smoothly and is very readable.
Robert Beveridge
Bella Bathurst, The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks from the 18th Century to the Present Day (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

While I was coming up with my Best Reads of 2009 list, I found that I'd somehow forgotten to write a review of Bella Bathurst's The Wreckers, the book which clocked in at #16 on that list. It's almost two months later, and I still haven't written that review. I finished the book back in October 2009, and I'm writing this on February 15, 2010. (Note: ther
Feb 13, 2015 Chris rated it did not like it
I must admit I was hoping for a bit more from this book, it does attempt to cover the topic of Wrecking in Britain in some detail but I fear it is suffering (like so many of its kind) from a lack of material.

The book contains alot of padding and some off topic issues such as Whales at the Natural History Museum which really have nothing to do with wrecking and were mentioned (I suspect) purely as a way of filling out another 30-40 pages.

Unfortunately I think the book's problem is that Wrecking
Bookmarks Magazine

It's hard to write a nonfiction book with limited sources and no way to properly authenticate what you write. But award-winning Bathurst (The Lighthouse Stevensons) seems up to the task, impressing critics with the thoroughness of her research (she interviewed 200 people and read travelers' journals and newspaper reports) and the spirited way she integrates surprising facts, entertaining anecdotes, and fictional accounts. They also credited her with striking the right tone between whimsy and sen

Tim C
Sep 01, 2013 Tim C rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This is an engaging and well-written book in which the author's own personality shines through. It ranges around the coast of Britain in a journalistic historical enquiry into shipwrecks and wrecking, pondering the definitions of each - legally, illegally, in terms of folklore and reality. In places it can be repetitious or ham up the history a little too journalistically (and one wonders what some of the author's interviewees must have made of her descriptions of them!), but overall it is a lyr ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Duzzlebrarian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book.

The author strikes the exact balance between poetic description and factual recitation. She writes more about the history of "salvaging" than actual "wrecking" as such (stealing stuff from existing wrecks, as opposed to D-I-Y disasters). Each chapter focuses on a particular hazard, such as the Goodwin Sands and the Pentland Firth. The book has plentiful interviews with people actually involved in shipwrecks, which draws the past and the present into closer conjunction th
Dec 28, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
Well, the subtitle explains a lot. Wreckers "salvage" the cargo and more valuable fittings of wrecked ships, sometimes doing so within the law but more often not, especially when they don't turn the goods over to the owners and ship insurers. Darker are the legends of causing the shipwrecks in the first place, for instance by placing false lights to misguide ships in stormy weather. Bathurst has done a great job of compiling a vast amount of research and telling the stories but she is unsuccessf ...more
Jenny Karraker
Aug 22, 2015 Jenny Karraker rated it liked it
From the cover and intro, I thought this would be more like the Disney movies about smuggling and people deliberately luring ships ashore to plunder them. But this was more of a historical treatment of the subject. I did enjoy how the author wrote chapters on different oceans and seas and how each has its difficult sections. I had no idea that there were shifting sandbars that often make the English Channel difficult to navigate. Also having read fictional books by Alistair McLean (many WW2 adve ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Jane rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David R.
Sep 01, 2010 David R. rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history, travel
A bit anticlimactic. While terribly interesting from a geophysical standpoint, the book never lives up to its breathless promise. Bathurst documents some awful shipwrecks but most often just offhand accounts of "wreckers" nicking cigarettes and whiskey from doomed vessels. Even the legendary Cornish come off looking more like pub eccentrics than fearsome ship killers. A worthwhile read for afficianados of things maritime, but probably a snoozer for anyone else.
Nate Rooney
Apr 20, 2015 Nate Rooney rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Though a well written historical account of shipwrecks on the British coast, the book lacked a lot of entertainment value. Had I not been reading for background research, I don't believe I would have found the will to finish it.
Dec 11, 2007 Jeani rated it did not like it
This sounded fun and interesting on the jacket...unfortunately, that's where the neatness ended. It was very dry and more of an editorial on wreckage law and such than acn actual compliation of accounts.
Jun 18, 2013 Pam rated it it was ok
Interesting historically but there was not enough information to make an interesting and readable book.
Kathleen McRae
I enjoyed parts of this book and it had some new and rather interesting information. the writing was not always interesting and seem to jump erratically or was it meandering
Aug 11, 2011 Mwil298 rated it really liked it
Covers only the British Islands but is interesting. Actually, this is the second time that I have read it.
Charlotte rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2016
Chris Sawle
Chris Sawle rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2014
Whitney rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2012
Christopher Wakefield
Christopher Wakefield rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2016
Sheron rated it really liked it
Jan 31, 2013
Eilidh rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2014
Amy rated it really liked it
Mar 07, 2008
Adrian Loades
Adrian Loades rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2011
Kingsley Marshall
Kingsley Marshall rated it it was ok
Dec 25, 2015
Mark Stewart
Mark Stewart rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2013
dennis rated it liked it
May 11, 2011
Claudio rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2014
Heymrspaceman rated it it was ok
Nov 26, 2012
Sam Coomber
Sam Coomber rated it really liked it
May 24, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Barrow's Boys: The Original Extreme Adventurers: A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude and Outright Lunacy
  • The Billy Ruffian
  • Seven Tenths: The Sea and Its Thresholds
  • 75 Years Of DC Comics. The Art of Modern Mythmaking
  • The English Civil War: A People's History
  • Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast
  • Scotland: A New History
  • The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Biography
  • Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Mans Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science
  • Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey
  • The Troubadour's Song: The Capture and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart
  • George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker
  • For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
  • The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis
  • The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith
  • In a Far Country: The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898
  • The Pirate Queen
  • 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names

Share This Book