Excerpt from Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Pirate Hunters

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

by Robert Kurson

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson X
Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2015, 304 pages
    Mar 2016, 304 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chatterton and Mattera didn't have two minutes to spare in advance of their quest for the San Bartolomé. They'd vowed never to let anything put them off track. But there was an urgency in Bowden's voice they hadn't heard in the year since they'd met him, and Miami was just a two-hour flight from Santo Domingo; they could be there and back the same day. If nothing else, Bowden told great stories, and in treasure hunting, stories were the next best thing to gold. So, one morning in early 2008, they packed day bags and booked tickets, and went on their way. The treasure on board the San Bartolomé had been lost for four hundred years. It could wait another few hours for them to come find it.

In Miami, they rented a car and set out for Bowden's house. He wasn't like any other treasure hunter they'd met. He seemed to work in the shadows, shunning publicity and almost never teaming up with others. He didn't boast or issue bullshit claims. And he used little of the modern technology that had revolutionized underwater salvage, relying instead on old drawings, aging equipment, and his own decades-old notes to find wrecked ships loaded with silver and gold.

During his career, Bowden had discovered not one but two Spanish treasure galleons, and he'd done groundbreaking work on a third, yet neither Chatterton nor Mattera could judge how wealthy he'd become. His home in the Dominican Republic was hardly larger than a garage, and his salvage boat, the Dolphin, was good but not grand. As a successful treasure hunter, Bowden should have been able to live in a palace, a place with solid gold doorknobs and a moat. But as Chatterton and Mattera pulled into the driveway, they had to double-check the address. The house, while lovely, looked no different than any other in this ordinary suburban subdivision.

Inside, Bowden offered them coffee, but they hardly heard him. Everywhere they looked they saw treasure. In one room were silver coins embedded in coral; in another, centuries-old brass navigational instruments that museums would have paid a fortune to own. The china in Bowden's dining room was seventeenth-century Delftware, still as blue and white as the day it was made, and a match for a priceless set Mattera had seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Bowden showed them other coins and artifacts, each with a story, each from a shipwreck he'd worked. He let them handle everything; touch was important, he said, otherwise a person could never really know this stuff. Finally, Mattera excused himself to use the bathroom. He stopped when he walked in the door.

Piled high in the bathtub were plastic bags filled with silver pieces of eight, all from the seventeenth century. He lifted one of the bags from the tub and inspected the contents through the flimsy plastic. For years, he'd seen silver coins like these sell for a thousand dollars apiece at auction. By his count, there were at least one hundred bags in the tub, and fifty coins to a bag. Mattera had never been quick at math, but he made this calculation right away. In a single bathtub, he was looking at five million dollars in treasure, all bundled in the cheapest baggies he'd ever seen, not even with Ziploc tops.

Returning to the living room, Mattera quick-stepped over to Chatterton and whispered in his ear.

"Take a leak."


"Just do it. Go to the bathroom."

Chatterton shrugged. They were partners. So he went.

He returned a few minutes later, eyes bulging.

Bowden asked the men to join him at the dining room table, then got down to business. He'd done it all in his thirty-plus-year career—worked three galleons, a slave ship, and a legendary warship from the American Revolution. He'd been featured—twice—in National Geographic (Mattera had read the first of those stories when he was sixteen, then read them over and over again). He'd recovered world-class treasures and priceless artifacts. But there was something he wanted different from any of that—something rare beyond measure, a prize he'd been seeking for decades.

Excerpted from Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson. Copyright © 2015 by Robert Kurson. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Admiralty Law

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: To Be a Man
    To Be a Man
    by Nicole Krauss
    While, as its title hints, To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss is concerned with masculinity, it renders a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Office of Historical Corrections
    The Office of Historical Corrections
    by Danielle Evans
    In The Office of Historical Corrections, the second story collection from Danielle Evans, readers ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Dutch House
    by Ann Patchett

    The Dutch House is my introduction to Ann Patchett, which, after reading it, surprises me. I had ...

  • Book Jacket: Nights When Nothing Happened
    Nights When Nothing Happened
    by Simon Han
    A quiet atmosphere of dread permeates Simon Han's subdued debut novel Nights When Nothing Happened. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    At the Edge of the Haight
    by Katherine Seligman

    Winner of the 2019 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Prophets
    by Robert Jones Jr.

    A stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Moment of Lift
by Melinda Gates
How can we summon a moment of lift for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.
Who Said...

I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now only that place where the books are ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

T T T Light F

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.