Expedition Whydah: The Story of the World's First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her-Paul Perry, Barry Clifford

  • Title: Expedition Whydah: The Story of the World's First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her
  • Author: Paul Perry, Barry Clifford
  • Released: 1999-05-11
  • Language:
  • Pages: 311
  • ISBN: 0060192321
  • ISBN13: 978-0060192327
  • ASIN: 0060192321


From Sunk off the Cape Cod shoreline in the eighteenth century, the Whydah represents the only salvaged pirate ship to date. Through meticulous research and frantic fund-raising efforts, Clifford located the site of the Whydah's wreck and has thus far resurfaced more than 200,000 of its artifacts. Clifford balances tales of his own exploits with history and pirate lore, fleshing out the background of the Whydah's captain, "Black" Sam Bellamy, as well as other key pirates of that era. Clifford's insights into pirate culture will engage the lay historian, and his broad overview of pirate life will appeal to readers more familiar with that time period. Readers will also take interest in Clifford's crew, an appropriately salty bunch, yet they may find themselves wishing that Clifford had more fully explored their fractious dynamic rather than glossing over individual contentions. Although Clifford's condensation of historical events leans toward oversimplification, he still manages to fill his account with a great deal of information that should appeal to readers with fond childhood memories of Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe. Brendan Dowling

From Kirkus Reviews Treasure hunter Clifford's (The Pirate Prince, 1993, etc.) second account of discovering the remains of the notorious pirate vessel Whydah is as overburdened with trivial detail as the wreck is with drifting sand. Co-author Perry is also a member of the expediiton team. When the pirate Black Sam Bellamy captured the English slave ship Whydah, it no longer had its terrible human cargo aboard, but indigo and lapis, silver and gold, and a ruby rumored to be as big as a hen's egg. Bellamy turned the fleet vessel into his flagship and used it for plunder until a fierce storm sent the Whydah to the bottom off Cape Cod. In a conversational tone, Clifford tells the story of his infatuation with Bellamy and the Whydah, from his early days on Martha's Vineyard when his uncle would regale him with stories of pirate treasure to be had for the picking, right up through his uncovering of much Whydah booty and, more archaeologically significant, identification of the Whydah, the only pirate ship ever found. Unfortunately, the life of a treasure hunter is a swath of boredom punctuated by rare incandescent moments. Much of the time Clifford is out grubbing for money to finance the search and, laudably, to preserve the artifacts, but it doesn't make for edge-of-the-chair reading. Likewise, court tussles with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over disposition of the find are as dull as the eye of a dead mackerel. More engaging, perhaps even than the treasure itself, is Clifford's interest in pirates, and particularly his piecing together of Bellamy's life (though the parallels he insinuates between himself and Bellamy are a stretch). Readers won't have to buy into his suggestion that pirates were warriors in the class struggle to appreciate why many turned to brigandry under the black flag. Despite flashes of excitement when loot surfaces and captivating historical tidbits, Clifford's story lacks drama and excitement. A National Geographic TV special based on the tale airs this spring. (photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. pdf