Cover image for Return to Treasure Island and the search for Captain Kidd
Return to Treasure Island and the search for Captain Kidd
Clifford, Barry.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 278 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
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Added Author:
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Material Type
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Item Holds
G530.A146 C55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When history's most famous pirate, Captain Kidd, was hanged in 1701, he left behind a trail of treasure and treachery that stretched halfway around the world. For undersea explorer Barry Clifford, the biggest prize of all would be to find the Adventure Galley, Kidd's legendary pirate ship. In the world of pirate archaeology, it was the Holy Grail.

With the help of the Discovery Channel, Clifford fields an expedition that includes some of America's top experts in shipwreck recovery. Their goal is to find, identify, and possibly excavate the remains of history's most famous pirate ship. The search takes them to the exotic nation of Madagascar and a tiny island off its rocky coast known to historians as the model for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. There, amid pirate graveyards, broken porcelain intended for a European royal family, and native rituals that include blood sacrifice, Clifford and his crew find far more than they bargained for. The island's murky harbor is filled with sunken pirate ships, making it difficult to single out the Adventure Galley, and the shores are teeming with people who want the expedition stopped. The team races to find the ship before dark forces expel it from the island -- forces motivated by the same resentment and greed that caused Kidd's downfall.

Return to Treasure Island and the Search for Captain Kidd weaves together two exciting stories: the saga of Captain William Kidd, one of history's most baffling and mysterious figures, and Barry Clifford's obsessive quest to find perhaps the most notorious pirate ship of all time. The result is a tale of treasure and adventure that ends in death -- both Kidd's and, three hundred years later, that of a rival archaeologist who attempts to stop Clifford's expedition.

Author Notes

Paul Perry attended Arizona State University and received a fellowship from the Freedom Forum Foundation at Columbia University in 1988. He taught magazine writing at the University of Oregon and was Executive Editor at American Health magazine. He is the co-author with Melvin Morse of Closer to the Light, Transformed by the Light, and Where God Lives, which won the 2002 Aleph Award for the best spiritual book published that year in France. His work has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic Adventure, Ladies Home Journal, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and Reader's Digest.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Clifford is searching for lost pirate treasure again, this time in Madagascar, at Ile Sainte Marie, an island that was a haven for pirates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The object of the search is the sunken ship of the infamous Captain Kidd. Clifford and coauthor Perry alternate between history and narrative. Over the course of the book, they tell how Kidd, a wealthy and respected man in New York's social and political circles, who was royally commissioned as a pirate hunter, later became the most wanted outlaw of his time. In addition, Clifford tells of his own expeditions to the site of the wreck, giving the reader a lesson in the basic techniques of underwater archaeology, recounting the pirate lore of the present-day inhabitants, mapping a network of underground tunnels used by pirates to hide treasure, and visiting the legendary pirate cemetery on the island. If all this sounds like a fascinating adventure story, that's because it is. Young and old readers alike will find a terrific pirate tale and fodder for the imagination. --Gavin Quinn Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The legendary Kidd (1654-1701) was a mass of intriguing contradictions. Initially a respectable husband and New York City entrepreneur, he succumbed to a lust for wealth and became a murderous, dictatorial pirate. Archeologist Clifford and co-writer Perry present a robust and chilling account of Kidd's barbaric exploits. The pirate material unfolds in alternating chapters with Clifford's search for the pirate's ship, Adventure Galley, an expedition funded by the Discovery Channel. Clifford describes his hunt meticulously, although his tale is overshadowed by the colorful portrait of a nefarious rogue who killed an innocent native on one of the Maldive Islands to establish authority and punished his crew so brutally they turned to mutiny. Stories about Discovery's tight schedules and frustrating efforts to procure excavation permits offer an in-depth view of obstacles expedition leaders and archeologists face, but Clifford's contemporary yarn gains emotional charge and tension when he deals with Dick Swete, a rival scientist with a longtime grudge, who struggles to deter Clifford. Swete, a descendant of pirate William Rogers, appears as a paranoid equivalent of Kidd and his fellow plunderers. The text's spare clarity brings alive the sea and Madagascar's Ile Sainte-Marie, a place where men could "buy clothing, weapons, drugs, alcohol, and women." Clifford finds his elusive ship, a far happier ending than Kidd found in his amazing saga's final phase, when he was hanged for his crimes and left to dangle in a London public square to warn those contemplating the pirate's life. 50 b&w photos. Agent, Nat Sobel. (On sale Oct. 21) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In 1999, Clifford, an underwater archaeologist who has located and excavated sunken ships, contracted with the Discovery Channel to locate the Adventure Galley, flagship of the fabled Captain Kidd. This volume is published in conjunction with this fall's accompanying documentary about the three-year expedition. Clifford cleverly alternates chapters about the expedition with chapters detailing the sordid adventures of Kidd, a 17th-century entrepreneur who obtained a commission from the English crown to capture French ships (the two countries were at war) and to destroy pirates. Kidd promptly set about attacking any ship that looked promising, regardless of flag, but despite his outsized modern reputation he was not a successful privateer. Kidd's crew mutinied and burned his ship near Madagascar, and he was eventually hanged at Wapping, England. Clifford located the wreck near Ile St. Marie off Madagascar's east coast, but his efforts to dive and record the site were complicated by corruption, disease, and intrigue. Altogether a lively and amusing story that, if not exactly sober history, is likely to be popular in public libraries.-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Return to Treasure Island and the Search for Captain Kidd Chapter One Being There I first saw Île Sainte-Marie from the wing seat of a French turboprop owned by Air Madagascar, an airline with the well-deserved nickname "Air Mad." As the plane began its descent from the west, it dropped through mounds of cumulus clouds before leveling off a few hundred feet over the choppy waters of the Indian Ocean. A few seconds before touchdown, the pilot caught sight of the air sock on the side of the runway -- the one near a small herd of zebus being tended by a young boy -- and decided the wind was blowing the wrong way. He chose to land from the east instead. He pulled back on the stick and pushed the throttle forward; the airplane rose, rapidly ascending over the island. Even though the ground flew by fast, it wasn't difficult to see why this had been such prime real estate for the pirates of the East Indies. The runway that we had opted out of seemed to be cut from a lush canopy of foliage, bordered by trees so heavy with fruit they leaned toward the center of the landing zone. We zoomed over an aqua-blue lagoon crisscrossed by graceful wooden pirogues. Farther out into the Indian Ocean, a reef spanned the length of the island for as far as I could see. Surf pounded the reef's ocean side -- waves that started in Australia nearly five thousand miles away and rolled unhampered across the third-largest ocean in the world. The plane banked hard and began a steep descent. Although these aeronautic gyrations were apparently normal on this route, in the United States they would probably qualify as evasive maneuvers. "Now we're flying," said my son, Brandon, a professional skier with a lust for tight turns and steep drops. The plane righted itself quickly and came in on the short runway. With skillful braking and reverse thrusting, it stopped just before the beach. "That was thrilling," said Jeff Denholm, a diver, surfer, and triathlete from southern Maine who had lost his right arm in an Alaskan fishing-boat accident. "One of the scariest things I've done this year." The steward popped open the door, and hot tropical air immediately spilled into the cabin. I took a deep breath and relaxed. The other passengers were unfolding from the tight seats, gathering their carry-on luggage from the overhead compartments, and heading for the open rear door. I sat quietly and let the moment settle in, thinking about the circumstances that brought me here to a place that one historian has called "the only pirate island in human history." I can't believe it , I said to myself. I am actually here. One step closer to finding Captain William Kidd's flagship, a monument to one of history's most misunderstood rogues. For years I had been compiling a file on Kidd. Though his reputation suggests him to be the most notorious and feared pirate of all -- "a nondescript animal of the ocean," said a later biography -- my research showed that he didn't truly become a pirate until late in his life. To American colonists of the 1690s, Kidd was a pillar of society, a loyal supporter of the king of England and a good seaman who used his skills to steal from enemies of the Crown. About his early life little is known. He was born 1654 in Dundee, a Scottish seaport. His father was a sea captain who died when Kidd was very young, leaving his family in great poverty. Kidd's ability to navigate and write well indicate that he somehow received a good education. He went on to serve in the Royal Navy, probably as a petty officer. Later he became respected as a privateer, a sea captain who was authorized by his government to rob the ships of the enemy, in this case the French. Kidd was good at what he did. Royal governors in the Caribbean commended him for his fighting abilities, and an English captain familiar with Kidd testified years later at his trial that he "was a mighty man in the West Indies." Kidd became such a man in New York, too. Rewarded for his bravery at sea, he went on to live in the colonies, where he amassed considerable wealth and respect. His marriage to a wealthy widow gave him higher social standing and added more heft to his bottom line. Kidd became known as one of the movers and shakers of New York City. He owned docks, several town houses in what is now the Wall Street area, a farm in northern Manhattan, cargo ships and businesses. He even helped build Trinity Cathedral next to the site of what would later become the World Trade Center. Kidd was wealthy, secure, and respected in 1696 when, at the age of forty-one, he agreed to become a privateer for a partnership of businessmen headed by an English lord. Even King William III joined the venture, an act he would later regret. Kidd's goal, as stated in a commission from the king, was to rob French ships and capture pirates who had been plaguing English shipping in the Indian Ocean. To enable him to carry out his mission, the partnership built the Adventure Galley, a hybrid fitted with sails and oars and thirty-four cannons, and the first ship ever built by the British to hunt pirates. Rated at 287 tons, she was light and fast. The oars gave her an extra edge by increasing maneuverability and allowed her to pursue prey on a windless sea. With a strong ship, a good crew, and financial backing from England's nobles, Kidd seemed to have had everything he needed in order to succeed as a privateer. But appearances were deceiving. After months at sea Kidd realized that he would never make as much money as he had initially thought. Return to Treasure Island and the Search for Captain Kidd . Copyright © by Barry Clifford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Return to Treasure Island and the Search for Captain Kidd by Barry Clifford, Paul Perry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part I The First Expedition
1. Being Therep. 3
2. Theft by Commissionp. 17
3. A Jumbled Graveyardp. 25
4. Privateer, Inc.p. 32
5. Treasures to Explorep. 38
6. The Rogue's Roguep. 45
7. A Likely Suspectp. 51
8. Murder and Piracyp. 62
9. The First Bank of Kiddp. 75
10. Now I Am Onep. 82
11. Zebu-Quep. 93
12. Brethren of the Seap. 100
Part II The Second Expedition
13. Return to Treasure Islandp. 107
14. "Wickedness So Great"p. 120
15. The Tech Teamp. 126
16. England's Most Wantedp. 131
17. The Tunnels of Pirate Islandp. 138
18. False Redemptionp. 145
19. Pirate Goldp. 151
20. "Never a Greater Liar"p. 156
21. The Fiery Dragonp. 163
22. As Good as Hangedp. 175
Part III The Third Expedition
23. Friday the Thirteenthp. 185
24. "Moved and Seduced"p. 194
25. Battle of the Full Moonp. 201
26. "Not Designedly Done"p. 208
27. A Son of a Piratep. 215
28. The Greatest and the Worst of Allp. 228
29. The Trick-or-Treat Showp. 232
30. Twice to the Gallowsp. 238
31. "No One Should Die Alone"p. 247
32. The Unrequited Legacyp. 255
33. The Brotherhood of Piratesp. 263
Acknowledgmentsp. 277