Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will surprise yourself with how much you enjoy this!, June 5, 2003
This review is from: Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea (Paperback)
I don't know which is more fascinating, the story of the steamship Central America sinking amid a violent storm; or the story of the engineer extraordinaire who resolved to recover it's California gold rush cargo that had remained undisturbed for almost 125 years under two miles of ocean. Fortunately, Gary Kinder chose to tell both tales and they are equally engrossing
Almost by definition, disasters at sea make for interesting reading, and the foundering of the Central America ranks among the worst maritime losses in American history. She went down in water over 10,000 feet deep, lost for over a century. Kinder relates her final voyage, illuminating the heroism of her captain, crew and passengers in a style that nearly makes the reader weep as her decks vanish into the sea. That alone would make this book worthy of note in any list of ship histories, but Tommy Thompson determined to find the wreck and to recover a treasure that many experts considered to be unrecoverable.
It takes a talented writer to make an engineer seem interesting, or maybe the engineer just has to combine an almost Edison-like gift for innovation with a bit of treasure hunter to be interesting. First you have to find the ship, then you have to figure out how to bring it's cargo back to the surface - no mean feat at those depths. But Thompson wasn't content with simply finding and recovering the gold bullion and coins that went down with the Central America, he wanted to bring the artifacts up as cleanly and completely as possible. Where others might have been content to just sink a robot-controlled bucket down to the wreck and scoop up what ever could be found, Thompson and his crew invented new technologies that brought coins up with so little damage that appraisers at first questioned whether they were from a shipwreck. Thompson and company face one challenge after another, engineering problems, technologic problems, financial problems and even the drama provided by rival treasure hunters. You might be surprised how difficult it can be to put this book down.
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