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

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  22 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)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  149 ratings  ·  22 reviews


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Start your review of The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the 18th-Century to the Present Day
Andrew
May 05, 2012 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..
...more
Stephen Makin
Jun 04, 2015 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.
...more
Kit Longden
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
She writes beautifully, combining a lovely eye for detail and nicely weighted humour while interviewing with thoughtful analysis of the ideas and lively scholarship of the history. To go from writing about lighthouses to wreckers is clever - the whole book is a lovely surprise.
Patrick Murtha
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The title of this grand survey of nautical true crime presents an ambiguity right up front. Are wreckers people who cause shipwrecks in order to profit from them, or only people who passively take advantage of such shipwrecks as occur? In a sense, the entire book is devoted to teasing out the implications of that question. Bella Bathurst takes us round (literally) the island of Britain in this "Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day," and i ...more
Andrew
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent survey of one of history's most notorious & nefarious criminal activities - and all along the coasts of the British Isles too!. Bella Bathurst investigates the truth of some of the more shocking tales of wreckers...not far from blood-thirsty pirates in some cases!...& puts them in their historical, geographical & moral contexts & 'seascapes'...with tactful understanding & historical & legal depth. The sea must have its own...but what it doesn't claim...the flotsam & jetsam of wrecked s ...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
This was less of the full-scale detailed review of the history of wrecking and more of an anecdotal wander around peoples' memories of wrecking. Luckily, both of those are book formats I enjoy. This was a really fascinating look into what actually happened (surprisingly recently, even), what the law says, and what people are willing to admit to. I enjoyed the insights into the motives behind wrecking and the way that it's been built up in both popular imagination and community memory. ...more
Jason Goodrick
At times very interesting however I couldn't help but feel that it was a bit misleading in it's subject matter. If your expecting a book full of historical accounts of wrecking you might be disappointed as this is more about the geography where the wrecks occured and reasons why people did so. ...more
Alasdair Mckinnon
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, sailing
Really interesting book covering wrecking on the shores of the UK. It's a subject I didn't know anything about before and I found it very informative and easy to read. ...more
Phillipa
Jun 22, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Decided to abandon this one instead of pushing thru hoping for it to eventually interest me. Made it to the "West Coast". ...more
Kim Zinkowski
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
B. An informative history of the coast of England.
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
...more
Chris
Mar 17, 2014 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
...more
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

...more
Tim Chamberlain
Aug 01, 2013 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
Duzzlebrarian
Jan 02, 2010 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
...more
Mark
Jun 28, 2012 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 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
David R.
Aug 25, 2010 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. ...more
Jeani
Nov 20, 2007 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. ...more
Pam
Apr 30, 2013 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
Mwil298
Aug 11, 2011 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
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Bella Bathurst is a fiction and non-fiction writer, and photographer, born in London and living in Scotland. Her journalism has appeared in a variety of major publications, including the Washington Post and the Sunday Times.

Her first published book was The Lighthouse Stevensons (1999), an account of the construction of the Scottish lighthouses by the ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson, and named
...more

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