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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  8,328 ratings  ·  1,130 reviews
A thrilling new adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of the New York Times bestseller 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 Josep
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published June 16th 2015 by Random House
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Jonathan Kurson is one of the best writers and researchers around. He brings true characters to life and makes you feel like you're there with them on their qu…moreKurson is one of the best writers and researchers around. He brings true characters to life and makes you feel like you're there with them on their quests. I'm excited to read his new book.(less)
Rosie It was released today! He was at B&N in Tribeca, NYC autographing Pirate Hunters. It is an excellent read!!

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  8,328 ratings  ·  1,130 reviews

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Leo .
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know that John Chatterton is a world renown diver. I have seen him dive a couple of times on the fantastic show The Curse Of Oak Island.

Pirates have always fascinated me. The secrecy. The brotherhood. A masonic connection? Sir Francis Drake was basically a pirate working for the Crown.

I watched the whole series of Black Sails and remember a poignant thing Captain Flint the Pirate says when spotting a British Ship on the horizon from the bay of Nassau.

"I fear the worst, civilization is coming
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
This book spent a lot of time treading water.

Pirate Hunters is the story of three men trying to find the wreck of a 17th century pirate ship in the Dominican Republic. Joseph Bannister was an Englishman who turned to piracy, and the Royal Navy was sent to capture him. Bannister's ship, the Golden Fleece, sank in 1686 after a ferocious battle. It wasn't seen again until 2009, when our pirate hunters found it after months of searching.

This book was described as an adventure story, which is why I w
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, favorites
I stumbled on this book while I was trying to find a book on the Amber Room (The Amber Room is a world-famous chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg Originally constructed in the 18th century in Prussia, the Amber Room disappeared during World War II and was recreated in 2003. Before the room was lost, it was considered an "Eighth Wonder of the World"),

I didn't have any expectations before readi
Jennifer Masterson
I'm DNF'ing this at 60%. It's just too much back story on the men looking for the ship and not enough about The Golden Compass. I wanted treasure and they only touched on that in the beginning. Also this isn't good on audio because this book needs pictures. The narrator Ray Porter is good. Don't take my word for it. Lots of people loved this book. ...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Kurson's Shadow Divers, so when this came up I just has to grab it. These divers are amazing men, the amount of time and money this takes is astronomical and this plays havoc on lives and relationships.

In this book they are looking for a pirate's ship, the Golden Fleece of John Bannister. Bannister is the only pirate that actually beat the Royal Navy. There is so much more to, this book, a history of piracy, the leasing pirates of the time and how they fought and the treasure
My sincere thanks to Random House and Netgalley for allowing access to the e-galley of Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship to be published June 16, 2015.

Demonstrating the same meticulous research, detail and respect as he did in Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson has once again written a winner that is bound to resonate with readers. In Pirate Hunters, Kurson follows the adventuresome quest divers, the two John’s, Chatterton and Mattera as they search for th
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, The mixture of underwater archeology, the historical background of the pirate ship and pirate themselves added a lot to the narrative. I'm a sucker for anything historical specially having to do with the golden age of Piracy which happens to be right smack in the middle of the Imperialistic age, which is always interesting to read about from a historian point of view. The only reason that I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I don't think everybody would appreciate the d ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pirate Hunters is more than just "the search for the lost treasure ship of a great buccaneer," it's history, biography, and psychology rolled into one page-turning tale. Ostensibly, this is the story of two treasure hunters, John Mattera and John Chatterton, who descend upon the Dominican Republic in search of the pirate Joseph Bannister's ship, the Golden Fleece. In a battle against two British war ships, the Golden Fleece went down in 1687, where it has rested in peace ever since. Author Rober ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This book ultimately frustrated me. I really enjoyed the chronicle of searching for the ship, the story of Bannister and the backstory of both the men at the center of the story. But what has stuck in my mind since finishing are the things that were frankly unnecessary to the story or seemed shoe horned in.

There are several times that the author and men make rather objectifying statements about women, which may have been said, but really didn't need to be included in the book. It only added to t
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really enjoyable and quick read. It’s part biography part history. It tells the story on how a team of divers discovered the wreck of the Golden Fleece, using a combination of research and technology, and the struggles they faced along the way.

The Golden Fleece is the ship that belonged to Joseph Bannister, infamous English Gentleman turned pirate. So we get a few different stories in this book. The story of how the wreck was found, the stories behind the men who found it, and the his
Joy D
True story of the search for the pirate ship Golden Fleece near shores of current-day Dominican Republic. In 1684, Captain Joseph Bannister abandoned his career as an English merchant captain, stole the ship, and became a pirate. The Royal Navy tracked him down and sank his ship in 1686. In 2008, celebrated wreck-divers John Chatterton and John Mattera teamed up with treasure hunter Tracy Bowden to search for the ship and recover its cargo.

I particularly enjoyed the history of the era and the m
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“This is the greatest pirate story ever...And no one knows about it.”

Just read this for a second time and absolutely loved it! Amazing characters, history, adventure, SCUBA diving, and all focused on one of the greatest pirate stories of all time. Loved everything about this book and highly recommend.

Summary: John Chatterton and John Mattera are legends in the field of SCUBA diving and deep wreck salvaging who come together for the most epic quest of their lifetime; to discover a long lost pira
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Caribbean Booty Call: The Quest for the Golden Fleece
[4.5 stars]

'Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall.
You've seen it all, you've seen it all....'
J. Buffett, "A Pirate Looks at Forty."

I've loved Jimmy Buffett's serenade to a pirate's life since my first trip to Key West and out into the Caribbean; it's a treasure for revelry of trips south and youthful daydreams of life one day on a small Caribbean island. Arrr, what jewels and go
Karen R
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I suspected after reading the first chapter that this true story would be extraordinary, following in the footsteps of one of my favorite books of 2004, Shadow Divers. And it was. What a great adventure!

This is an obsessive and all-consuming quest by renowned scuba diver John Chatterton and John Mattera to find the greatest pirate ship that ever sailed, the Golden Fleece. The story of this hugely expensive and once in a lifetime deep-sea discovery is filled with suspense, risk, frustration, exh
Bob Schnell
Advanced Reading Copy review Due to be published June 16, 2015

"Pirate Hunters" by Robert Kurson is kind of a sequel to his break-out book "Shadow Divers" about the discovery and identifying of a sunken German U-Boat. The new book continues the exploits of adventure diver John Chatterton as he is now on the trail of the pirate Joseph Bannister and his ship Golden Fleece.

Because underwater treasure hunts can be brutally tedious, the author fills the pages with biographies of the major players, a
Fritz Schneider
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I feel like Kurson hired a 14-year-old boy to ghostwrite this book for him. Huh huh, grown men snuggling. That's FUNNY! The writing is repetitive and longwinded, and characters are one-dimensional comic book renderings of what I assume are real people. The former gangster! The fiercely independent millionaire! The eminent elder statesman of the craft *who isn't as smart as he thinks he is!* The heroes (for no doubt that's what they are) buck the system and through street smarts (those academics ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never been fascinated by pirates but after reading Kurson “Pirate Hunters” that’s changed. I am interested in history and Kurson brings lots of that alive in “Pirate Hunters” specifically the history of the golden age of Piracy in the 17th century around Hispaniola (now known as Santo Domingo). At that time it was a Spanish colony but the French and English were there in abundance as well for the lucrative trade opportunities. And where lots are goods are being moved you’ll find those who w ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
My copy courtesy Random House/Net Galley - much thanks!

Covers both the search for a pirate ship from the "golden age of piracy" (roughly 1650-1720) off of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean, but also the pasts of the main searchers, from Vietnam to the fringes of the mafia, and the lives of the pirates.

The vessel being hunted is the Golden Fleece, which fought off two Royal Navy frigates which grossly out-manned and out-gunned it, though it sank in doing it, in 1686. Finding a bona fide pirate wrec
5 Stars for Pirate Hunters (audiobook) by Robert Kurson read by Ray Porter. This such an wonderful story. It’s like a Clive Cussler novel but it’s all real. The backgrounds of the characters are amazing. If this book was fiction they would seem over the top but that’s the kind of people it takes to complete an expedition like this. The narration was great. Ray Porter is the perfect voice for this story.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I found Pirate Hunters listed on my library website, I knew I had to read it. The story of two divers finding a lost pirate ship? Yes, please.

As I'd hoped, I learned a great deal about pirating from this book. Among some of the interesting facts I found were that:
- some pirate crew members would disguise themselves as women to remain inconspicuous until the ships they preyed on came closer
- they didn't actually make prisoners walk the plank - that's just in movies; but they did love parrots
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Did you grow up waiting for Jacques Cousteau's weekly TV show to expose you to a slice of the world explored aboard the legendary Calypso that seemed so strange, so remarkable, so colorful it was hard to believe it was real? [It's pretty wild to remember a time when this color-rich experience might be preceded or followed by black-and-white re-runs.] If so, you'll enjoy this book (although, as noted below, the author's prior work is even better).

Having been totally bowled over, nay, blown away,
Laura Noggle
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction, history
*If an undertaking was easy, someone else already would have done it.*

Was hoping for more pirates, less doldrums. Lots of extraneous filler content.

But where are the pirates?

I guess that's the question.

Enjoyed Shadow Divers and Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon more.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
A rousing treasure hunt for pirates! I really enjoyed this true tale of two adventurous men who take on the project of locating a pirate ship that sank in the waters of the Dominican Republic. From start to finish, I found myself enthralled with not only the search for the famed Golden Fleece, but the backstory of the two men who took on what turned out to be the find of a lifetime. Highly recommend if you enjoy archaeology and history, ship hunter tales, or are just in need of a rousing adventu ...more
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historial and adventure fans of non-fiction
Original review posted at The Zest Quest, a lifestyle site celebrating my quest for a zestful life.

Seventeenth century pirates could elicit not only fear in their wake but instill cooperation without firing a shot, just by their reputation shared by survivors. I have always been intrigued by pirates so PIRATE HUNTERS grabbed my attention just by the name, but when I realized it also included seventeenth century history, I was ready to dive in.

This book begins with an author’s note which gives th
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an enjoyable and fascinating book! I didn't know a lot about marine divers and hunters before this book but I feel like I walked away having learned a lot about the industry. The book did a great job of mixing the history of Joseph Bannister, who became a pirate in the Golden Age, with the true events of two men searching for his ship The Golden Fleece. They did an incredible amount of research to uncover the battle that went down and the potential areas the ship could have sank in. You don ...more
Mark Watkins
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“If you like pirates, meet me in New Jersey”.

With that, Kurson is off to meet John Chatterton and John Mattera, world class divers and treasure hunters, who are chasing the ghost of Joseph Bannister, one of the legendary (but real) pirates of the Caribbean, and his ship the Golden Fleece. Only one documented pirate ship has ever been found – the Whydah, off the coast of Cape Cod.

Kurson does a great job not just of telling the tale of the search for the Golden Fleece, but of taking you inside the
Mark Stevens
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shiver me timbers, another terrific non-fiction book about a grueling, exhausting search for a piece of history. Last time it was Douglas Preston’s "The Lost City of The Monkey God," uncovering a hidden archaeological gem in Honduras. This time, it’s a search underwater for the Golden Fleece, a ship that belonged to the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister.

Bottom line: "Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for A Legendary Pirate Ship" is fascinating.

Okay, that ‘shiver me timbers’ thin
Luke Schwiebert
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
This feels like a subject that would work better as an article (or perhaps a series of articles) than a full book. It starts off tantalizing, with the exciting promise of our explorers discovering something amazing, as well as a really cool chapter discussing the career of the pirate captain they're searching for, but after that, things kind of fall off the rails. There's lots of meandering and false starts (an inevitable problem with real exploration, which can't follow any plot structure), and ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, nonfiction
Pirate treasure hunters! They are super badass macho guys! They risk their lives to follow a dream! It's all sort of compelling! But also sort of pointless! ...more

I'm a big fan of Kurson's previous book, Shadow Divers, also a tale of searching shipwrecks for a specific kind of treasure, historical information and identity. Both books feature the famous wreck diver, John Chatterton. However, the Shadow Divers found a WW2 German sub off the shores of New Jersey, which were different kinds of "pirates" than those searched for in this new book, Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession,
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Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his bestselling book, "Shadow Divers," the true story of two Americans who discover a sunken World War II German U-boat and for "Crashing Through," the story of an entrepreneur who regains his eyesight after a lifetime of blindness.

Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School and practicing real estate law. His profe

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“If an undertaking was easy, someone else already would have done it. – If you follow in another’s footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving. – Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average. – Every so often, life presents a great moment of decision, an intersection at which a man must decide to stop or go; a person lives” 7 likes
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