From Publishers Weekly
This intense look at the fierce competition in what first-time author Pope slyly calls "the extraordinary underworld of shipwrecks" focuses on the effort in the late 1990s to recover a hoard of precious 15th-century porcelain from the sunken Hoi An
ship in the Dragon Sea, a stretch of "typhoon-torn" water off the coast of Vietnam. Pope is equally adept at illuminating "the peculiarly powerful allure of shipwrecks" that drives the Hoi An
team as he is in explaining the larger and more difficult context of modern excavation efforts, where "maritime archeologists who were regularly leading excavations around the world could be counted on the fingers of one hand, but the number of looters, souvenir-seekers, and well-equipped treasure-hunters was in the high hundreds." But Pope's strength in detailing the Hoi An
story comes from his fascinating in-depth portraits of the main players in what became an unprecedented and expensive recovery effort: Ong Soo Hin, a Malaysian businessman who helped launch the project; Mensun Bound, the director of Oxford's Maritime Archaeological unit; and Dilip Tan, the operations manager under "nightmarish pressure" to finish the project. Pope expertly shows how the same ocean that can terrify and enrich can also "lay bare the very nature of man." (Jan.)
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"... an engaging account that delves into the ethical conundrums of marine salvage, the deadly physics of the deep ocean and the roiling waters of professional subterfuge ... Pope''s impassioned, detailed reporting draws us into the story of ceramics and Vietnam ..."
(The New York Times