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Book review: 'Treasure Hunter' is a memoir of a diving career

By Landon Walters

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 4 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"TREASURE HUNTER: Diving for Gold on North America's Death Coast," by Robert MacKinnon with Dallas Murphy, The Berkley Publishing Group, $25.95, 315 pages (nf)

For most of human history, there has been a natural inclination to explore the unknown and research the past in order to learn what happened to our ancestors. Movies have always romanticized these types of exploration, but Robert MacKinnon has actually lived the life of a treasure hunter for more than 40 years.

In the new book “Treasure Hunter: Diving for Gold on North America’s Death Coast,” written along with author Dallas Murphy, MacKinnon recalls some of the highlights of his lengthy career in which he has explored shipwrecks from as far back as the 1700s. But the book also explores some of the more difficult things that he encountered, especially from a legal standpoint.

Labeled by some as a “plunderer” or “pillager,” and therefore only interested in the financial gain that can come from finding lost treasure, many of MacKinnons’ critics ignore some of the great things that he has done throughout his career to help advance his field. For example, MacKinnon built the first private maritime conservation laboratory and was the first to hire archaeologists to ensure professional integrity while on his many explorations.

Beginning with some of the first shipwrecks that MacKinnon found and explored in the beginning of his time as an explorer, this book moves seamlessly through his career while exploring the circumstances that resulted in the many shipwrecks that he has found and explored.

"Treasure Hunter" is extremely well written and easy to read, which often makes the readers feel as if they are reading a novel or a script for a movie. But then the authors explain some of the legal and logistical issues that they were faced with along the way and the audience is reminded that these stories are all true.

“Treasure Hunter: Diving for Gold on North America’s Death Coast” is a very exciting book that demonstrates the fun that can be had while exploring and learning about our past history.

Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. His email is mavericksoccer_22@hotmail.com.

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