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Captain Joseph Bannister… if the name fails to bring you to your knees, trembling in a state of fear, you’re not alone. Bannister is without question one of the most overlooked principals of piracy’s Golden Age, yet there are sound arguments to be made that he was one of the most fascinating men ever to terrorize the waterways of the Caribbean, and also one of the most successful. In short, one of the best pirates ever.

 

 

A once-respectable Englishman who willingly traded a good transcontinental shipping commission for a black flag, Bannister stole the same ship twice, escaped from prison, cavorted with notorious French swashbucklers, and fought the Royal Navy head-on before his career (and his life with it) came to an end.

 

The book Pirate Hunters follows world-renowned shipwreck divers John Mattera and John Chatterton on their quest to find the burned and sunken remains of Bannister’s ship, the Golden Fleece. From their first meeting with an eccentric backer in the United States, the reader feels like part of the crew. The book takes all these various narratives—Joseph Bannister’s life and turn to crime, Mattera and Chatterton’s backgrounds, the technical aspects of shipwreck salvage, political and familial drama—and weaves them around the reader until, suddenly, we’re right there in the middle of a complete and coherent story that spans a handful of centuries and several main characters.

 

 

 

The fact that I knew next to nothing about Joseph Bannister or the Golden Fleece (or Mattera, or Chatterton, or shipwreck diving) before picking up Pirate Hunters was in no way a hindrance to my enjoyment of the book. If anything, it made for a more exciting read. As the facts were revealed one-by-one through Kurson’s expertly-paced narrative, it felt like I was right there with Chatterton and Mattera: on the boat, tediously weaving back and forth to drag newfangled magnetic imaging equipment over the turquoise bay; in a library in London, squinting at stacks of four-hundred-year-old commerce records and ships' logs, desperately hoping for any class of clue; under the water, shoving aside debris and abandoned lobster traps, hoping to find a cannonball, a fragment of pottery, anything.

 

And what about the actual author of Pirate Hunters, Robert Kurson? Frankly, he doesn’t need my endorsement. The fact that Mattera and Chatterton sought him out after their adventure, eager to the put the story in his capable hands, says more about his literary abilities than anything I could type up. Kurson is that rare sort of nonfiction talent who is able to write someone else’s true story in a way that is nonetheless conversational and deeply personal. It takes a certain kind of writer to keep a story urgent and engaging when the topic turns to the procedures by which one might scrape the barnacles from a ship's hull some four hundred years ago. Kurson is that kind of writer.

 

Pirate Hunters is highly recommended by your library director—not just for those readers interested in shipwrecks, pirates, diving, or the Dominican Republic, but for anybody who likes a good story.

 

Pirate Hunters can be found in nonfiction at call number 910.9 KUR, and is also available to check out as an eBook through OverDrive!

Category: Book Reviews

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came out for our summer programs. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did!


The Super Mega Hardcore Fancy Acoustic Concert a couple weeks ago was a great success. Here are some pictures of the action...

 

 

 

Our Super Science Day with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum was super successful! Check out some photos below (just click on the picture for a larger image.)

 

A big thanks goes out to Andrea from AAHOM, and also to our friends at the Ontonagon Theater of Performing Arts for letting us hold the workshops in their fancy Chandelier Room! It was a perfect setting for the "Crime Lab" mystery that the older kids solved!


Did you enjoy our Super Science Day? Would you like to see more science workshops next summer? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

Author Profiles Contributed by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library

 

Jackie Collins was born in Hampstead, London in 1937. Her father was a famous theatrical agent whose clients included Shirley Bassey, The Beatles and Tom Jones. Jackie’s older sister is the actress Joan Collins and she also has a younger brother, Bill. Jackie attended the all girls’ school Francis Holland School in London, but she was expelled from the school at age 15 for truancy, smoking, and selling copies of her own book of dirty limericks. For a short time Jackie was a stage singer before following her sister to acting roles in a series of British B movies in the 1950s. She gave up her acting career after appearing in the 1960’s ITC television series “Danger Man” and “The Saint."

Category: Book Reviews

Author profiles contributed by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library

 

Robert Anthony Salvatore (pen name RA Salvatore) was born in January 1959 in Leominster, Massachusetts. He is the youngest of five children and a graduate of Leominster High School. After graduating he went to Fitchburg State College in MA where he planned on studying computer science. But, after receiving the book “Lord of the Rings” as a Christmas present his sophomore year he switched majors and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications/Media from Fitchburg in 1981. He went back the following year and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. Before taking up writing full-time in 1982, he worked as a bouncer and contributes his fierce and vividly described battle scenes to his time as a bouncer.

Category: Book Reviews

Author profiles contributed by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library

 

Sebastian Junger was born in Belmont, Massachusetts in January 1962. His father was a painter and his mother a physicist. His father was born in Germany and migrated to the United States during World War II because his own father had been Jewish. As a child Junger grew up in the neighborhood of the Boston Strangler, which later in life influenced him into writing one of his books specifically about the Boston Strangler and suggest it's possible the wrong man was convicted of the crimes. Also as a child Junger was interested in dangerous situations where people lived and worked. Later in life this led Junger to pursue the profession as a high-climber for tree removal companies. But after a chainsaw injury he thought better of it and instead decided to focus on journalism and telling stories about people with dangerous jobs.

Category: Book Reviews