Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea

by Gary Kinder

Hardcover, 1998

Call number




Atlantic Monthly Pr (1998), Edition: 1st, 507 pages


A chronicle of recent successful attempts to salvage a ship that sank in 1857 carrying gold from the rich California mines follows a group of adventurers who took great risks to reap billions in sunken treasure.

User reviews

LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
This is a fascinating look back to the sinking of the SS Central America in 1857, and then to the recovery efforts made some 130 years later -- from the fascination with its treasure, to the hunt, and finally the development of technology that made recovery possible, as well as the people involved at each moment. Kinder's work is brilliantly crafted, with research that takes readers back to the California Gold Rush and the nearly 600 men and women who boarded the SS Central America, as well as the treasure that they and the craft were carrying and the tragedy that unfolded some 200 miles off of North Carolina. As noted on the book jacket, "It was the worst peacetime disaster at sea in American history, a tragedy that remained lost in legend for over a century."

Moving between the resent and the ship and the hurricane that it fell to in 1857, Kinder manages to bring 130 years' worth of history into sharp relief, examining human failings, human heroics, and science and technology with an expert eye that brings all of it to life. The result is a fascinating story which is as unbelievable as it is true, and utterly worthwhile.

Absolutely recommended.
… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
In 1857, the SS Central America, a "side-wheeler steamer" sank, taking over 400 lives--and taking with it 21 tons of gold from the California Gold Rush. The book tells two entwined stories. That of the heroic efforts to save the ship and the struggles of the survivors, and over a hundred years later the tale of Tommy Thompson, a seemingly eccentric inventor, but one with the training of an engineer and the spirit of an entrepreneur who sees the recovery of the ship's treasures not just "as an end in itself, but as a way to learn how to work in the deep ocean" given the wreck was at a crushing depth in the ocean lower than many mountains are high. The author handled both halves of his tale well. I bought this book after reading The Perfect Storm, a truly fascinating tale of the sea. Ship of Gold scratched that itch as a great tale of the sea, of science, of human heroism and tragedy and adventure. It's something else I don't see much of--a tale of entrepreneurship. Of smarts and risks and high stakes. The challenges posed in the enterprise included historical, legal, technological, financial, poaching from competitors--and especially the sea, which many experts considered more forbidding to exploration than the moon. Given just the information in the back of the book, I thought I'd know how this book would turn out, yet the author managed to make it page-turning and suspenseful, making me more riveted to the page the further I read. Kinder had a great story to tell and it wasn't wasted on him.… (more)
LibraryThing member kenno82
The publisher needs to revisit the cover and the title. I thought it would be as interesting as reading the Sunday classifieds on first look. However, Kinder has provided a compelling account of one hell of an underwater adventure. I'd never heard of the sinking of Central America, but the tragedy is unique in terms of size, history and consequence. The book follows the project to find and salvage the wreckage. It's a great read. It reminded me a little of Shadow Divers, both in terms of the story, the way it's told and the enthusiasm and drive of the protagonists.… (more)
LibraryThing member nmele
This is one of the most interesting non-fiction books I have read in a long while. Kinder profiles a very unusual, creative mind, that of the engineer who assembled and led a team which revolutionized deep sea studies, and deep water search and recovery technology and law, while locating and retrieving from deep underwater a horde of gold and artifacts from a vessel which sunk off Cape Hatteras in 1857.… (more)
LibraryThing member Marlene-NL
Finished it this morning. Had a few pages left and had to read it. last night I could not stop reading. That is what is so amazing about this non fiction book, it sometimes reads as a thriller.
At the start you read about the sinking of the ship and learn more about the people on the boat. Then we were in this century and it was about a guy called Tommy. (At first I wasn't sure if i wanted to read any more to be honest but Oh I am so glad I did. Never in my dreams would I expect to like a book that is about technology,oceanology, science and such, but i loved it. I thought it all fascinating, The way he had to get investors, how the machine (nemo) was invented, but especially I loved the way it felt as if i was there. Among all those people who kept on trying and how they had to fight! so many things. wow. Highly recommend!… (more)
LibraryThing member picardyrose
Weaves together the tales of a historical shipwreck and the high-tech deep-water search for its treasure.
LibraryThing member afterlifewriter
A marvelous book; a real page turner. Keep the reader's interest through all the 400 + pages.
LibraryThing member janerawoof
Buried under a morass of details, which others may appreciate more than I, was the saga of the U.S.S. Central America, a paddle steamer bringing folks from the California Gold Rush, in 1857 from Panama with destination New York. A devastating hurricane sunk the ship and only 159 of the 600+ people on board were rescued. Captain Herndon went down with his ship and there is a today a memorial to him at Annapolis. Also was the story of Tommy Thompson of Ohio, an eccentric scientist and inventor, who was in charge of its deep sea salvage of all the personal objects and gold that had been on board. We follow how Tommy and his team obtain funding, find the coordinates where the ship had gone down, find a suitable boat to use and from it to do their recovery ln 1988. Fascinating look at deep sea exploration, not only of old ships and their contents but the discovery of previously unknown species of sea life. It was much too detailed for my taste. There was a drawing of the ship but no index and no map of the route taken. I regret the lack of both.… (more)
LibraryThing member sarcher
I'm not an ocean person or a historic-shipwreck person, but this is a really fun read. A neat story that lives in the world of "suddenly possible" in the rapid technologic evolution of the latter half of the 20th century.

Even more interesting is the fate of the main character Tommy Thompson - look it up.… (more)
LibraryThing member tgraettinger
Very enjoyable book, though I felt it was overly long. It was a bit of a slog early on with all the stories of the various passengers. Same for some of the periods spent while Tommy Thompson and his crew were on the sea. Some deeper editing might have made it more enjoyable from that standpoint, but the author did a good job of conveying the feeling of being on the Central America in 1857 as well as being on the recovery ships in the 1980's. As I got deeper and deeper into the story, it was very hard to put down and stop reading. And I loved sharing bits of the story with friends. Tommy Thompson is a fascinating character, and an inspiring one as well. Also, learning some of the history about the 1849 California gold rush and the options people had then to join it was similarly enlightening.

It's a bit surprising that this book and its story have never been made into a movie. To me, all of the elements are there: interesting characters, history, a treasure hunt, good guys vs bad guys, legal drama, battles with the elements, and a good ending. Maybe some day ...
… (more)
LibraryThing member schufman
The most fascinating part of this story is that it's still unfolding; the book ends in the early 90s, but there is turmoil and conflict even today.
LibraryThing member knfmn
Wow! What a great book! This book deals with the sinking of the SS Central America and the eventual recovery of it's treasure of gold 130 years later. It's extremely well-written and engrossing. It combines two of my favorite things in the world, the ocean and lost could it be bad? I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone.… (more)
LibraryThing member addunn3
The author describes the hunt for a deep sea treasure. It is much more than a treasure hunt - more about the temperament of the leader and how is creative approaches to problems solved many of the "impossible" problems of working in the deep ocean. Fascinating story, but, at times, a bit repetitive.




0871134640 / 9780871134646
Page: 0.2459 seconds