Good Minds Suggest—J. Maarten Troost's Favorite Books About Treasure Hunting

Posted by Goodreads on July 30, 2013
Travel writer J. Maarten Troost long avoided reading Robert Louis Stevenson, thinking that the legendary author's tales of the South Seas would be nothing but "musty prose." Yet Troost, the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages, soon discovered a kinship with the swashbuckling Treasure Island scribe. Stevenson was a restless nomad who set sail for far-flung Polynesia in 1888 on the schooner Casco, never again to return home. Seeking to reconnect with his own wanderlust, Troost decided to retrace Stevenson's island-hopping voyage in the part comic travelogue, part therapeutic confessional, Headhunters on My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story. The wayfaring writer shares his favorite books for treasure hunters in honor of his travel guide, Stevenson, whose classic books he finally read—and loved.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
"The granddaddy of treasure-hunting books and an excellent primer on moral ambiguity and fun with language ("Shiver me timbers."). Stevenson, hiding behind a pen name—Captain George North—wrote this as a children's yarn. This was back when murder, mayhem, and treachery were considered amusing topics for wide-eyed kids to ponder as they drifted off to sleep. What makes it a scintillating read today, however, is what makes it a classic—evocative language, atmosphere, colorful characters (young Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, Billy Bones), and a galloping tale of intrigue and adventure."

The Aubrey & Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian
"This is the crack cocaine of English literature. Perhaps you've seen the movie Master and Commander and you think, Hmmm, perhaps I'll pick up the book. Mistake! You will lose six months of your life as you lie awake at night—sleep deprived, the adrenaline pulsing through your veins—reading volume after volume, 20 in all, following the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Steven Maturin as they sail the Seven Seas during the Napoleonic Wars. And then when you're done, you'll pick up the first book and read them all over again. You will drop so deep into the rabbit hole that you may even name one of your children after Jack Aubrey. Not saying that I have any experience with this. I'm just saying it could happen. Ahem...moving on."

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild
"Here the treasure is Africa, specifically the lush dreamscape that was the Congo in the 19th century, a land of unimaginable riches that, remarkably, became the personal fiefdom of the king of Belgium. There is no moral ambiguity here. This is greed run riot, and the echoes of that tragic era reverberate today. For all the horror, this is a captivating book that reads as a grand novel."

Red Rackham's Treasure (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé
"The sequel to The Secret of the Unicorn. Some will say this is a mere comic book, kid stuff, escapist puffery. They are wrong. Hergé, in my humble opinion, belongs among the pantheon of the greats. Dip your toes into his world and you will fly away into a richly drawn universe of international intrigue, dastardly villains, and epic adventure. In Red Rackham's Treasure we have absentminded Professor Calculus, the bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson, the nefarious Bird Brothers, the whiskey-sodden Captain Haddock, and of course our hero, Tintin, and his faithful companion, Snowy, all engaged in an epic hunt for the pirate Red Rackham's treasure chest."

Gods, Graves & Scholars: The Story of Archaeology by C. W. Ceram
"As vividly alive and informative today as when it was first published in 1949. Imagine the wonder Howard Carter must have felt as he beheld the tomb of Tutankhamen or the satisfaction Heinrich Schliemann experienced as he unearthed the remains of Troy. Ceram, a pen name for the German journalist Kurt Wilhelm Marek, dispenses with the fuddy-duddy, incomprehensible jargon that bedevils academic writing today and offers a dazzling account of the hunt for the great treasures and lost cities of the ancients. After reading this, you will probably regret your career choice."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Treasure Hunters

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message 1: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Sharp's Rifles series by Bernard Cornwell! Woo-whoo! Let's capture that Napoleonic eagle!

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