Treasure Hunt

Shipwreck, Diving, and the Quest for Treasure in an Age of Heroes

Peter Earle

Thomas Dunne Books

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“A remarkable book, in which a very wide spectrum of human behavior is on show---from colossal gullibility on the one hand, to extraordinary ingenuity and determination on the other.” —The Daily Telegraph (UK)
    
     Treasure Hunt is the story of an obsession. Rumors of Spanish treasure, or gold and silver at the bottom of the sea, have been a part of maritime lore for centuries. In 1687, Captain William Phips brought back to port an incredible cargo---nearly forty tons of silver and gold---the treasure of the Spanish galleon Concepción, wrecked over forty years before on a coral reef in the middle of the ocean. The unimaginable had become real, and the great treasure-hunting boom had begun.
     Soon after Phips’s success, there were numerous expeditions that meant to emulate his stunning achievement. During that same time there was also a boom in the invention of crude and often very dangerous diving equipment. Many of these new projects were promoted on the infant stock market, where gambling and treasure hunting became closely connected with the birth of modern capitalism.
     By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, treasure hunting had become a professional occupation, with a new breed of diver emerging. Much of their time was spent salvaging the wrecks of English and Dutch East-Indiamen carrying treasure to ?nance business in Asia. Ever since, men have been prepared to risk life and fortune in the search for underwater riches.
     The author of numerous books of maritime history, including The Pirate Wars and The Sack of Panamá, world-renowned historian Peter Earle returns with an extraordinary and little-known history---of outstanding bravery, of exceptional recklessness, and above all, of the unquenchable lust for treasure.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One

Santa Catalina

Land ahead on the starboard bow!’ It was noon on 25 May 1666 when the ageing privateer, Captain Edward Mansfield, heard the lookout’s cry. He clambered up into the rigging to check his position. One quick look through his perspective glass and he could relax. There was no mistaking the rugged hills, over a thousand feet high, of the lonely island which the English called Providence and the Spaniards called Santa Catalina.1 The old captain glanced back at the rest of his squadron. All four ships were still in sight, spread out across the otherwise empty sea.

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Reviews

Praise for Treasure Hunt

“Wonderfully detailed.” ---San Antonio Express-News

“Earle is both swashbuckling and serious in this marvelous survey of piracy over 230 years.” ---The Oxford Times

“Fascinating . . . His scholarship is solid, and his telling of this complex story is lucid and well-paced.” ---The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“A thoroughly entertaining read that dispels a number of myths and spins many a good yarn.” ---Daily Mail (UK)

“Illuminating . . . It is one of the virtues of Earle’s account that although he is declaredly on the side of law and order, and his overall theme is the final triumph of the maritime states . . . he is far from immune---as a more straight-laced historian might be---to the charms of the pirate life.” ---The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Masterful . . . a much-needed reappraisal.” ---The Sunday Times (UK)


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About the Author

Peter Earle

Peter Earle formerly taught at the London School of Economics and is now Emeritus Reader in Economic History at the University of London. He is the author of more than a dozen books on English social and maritime history, including The Sack of Panamá, and The Pirate Wars, among many others. He lives in England.

Peter Earle

Peter Earle

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Available Formats and Book Details

Treasure Hunt
Shipwreck, Diving, and the Quest for Treasure in an Age of Heroes
Peter Earle

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
July 2008
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312380397
ISBN10: 0312380399
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 400 pages
$26.95

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
July 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429986618
ISBN10: 1429986611
400 pages
$7.99
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Thomas Dunne Books

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