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Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Treasure, Archeology, and Greed Off the Coast of Vietnam [Audiobook, CD, Ungekürzte Ausgabe] [Englisch] [Audio CD]

Frank Pope , Johnny Heller

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30. Januar 2007
Frank Pope pulls back the curtain on the intensely competitive underworld of shipwrecks in this thrilling story of treasure hunting gone wrong. When Oxford archeologist Mensun Bound?dubbed the "Indiana Jones of the Deep" by the Discovery Channel?teamed up with a financier to salvage a sunken trove of fifteenth-century porcelain, it seemed a dream enterprise. The stakes were high: The Hoi An wreck lay hundreds of feet down in a typhoon-prone stretch of water off the coast of Vietnam known as the Dragon Sea. Raising its contents required saturation diving, a crew of 160, and a fleet of boats. But the potential rewards were equally high: Bound would revolutionize thinking about Vietnamese ceramics, and his partner would make a fortune auctioning off the pieces. Or so they thought. In Dragon Sea, Pope delivers an engrossing tale of danger, adventure, and ambition?a fascinating lesson in what happens when scholarship and money join forces to recover lost treasure.
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"Treasure and typhoons, conflict and greed, plus a cast of intriguing characters and a weighty issue at its heart--Frank Pope?s tale has all the ingredients of a classic thriller. But it?s all true. A stunning debut."--Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer

"It takes a writer of extraordinary talent to tell a story like the one we find in Dragon Sea, but Frank Pope is one. This masterful recreation of the salvaging of the Hoi An hoard is as exciting as it is suspenseful--a thoughtful and gripping true thriller."--Clive Cussler
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Recounts the extraordinary efforts to recover a sunken trove of fifteenth-century Vietnamese porcelain from the Hoi An shipwreck hundreds of miles beneath the Dragon Sea.


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8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Treasure Versus History 13. Februar 2007
Von R. Hardy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Vietnam has spent almost all its past under control of China, or under threat of such control. There was a brief "golden age" of eighty years in the fifteenth century when it ruled itself, and its art, including making and glazing ceramics, broke free from the traditions of its big northern neighbor. The years of independence descended into chaos when a civil war began, and the art of the period was largely lost, even the ceramics that were dispersed in trade and then were lost. The artistic production of the age of independence was gone, not enough of it remaining to be systematically collected or understood. One trove of ceramics, however, had lain undisturbed on board the wreck of the _Hoi An_ which had gone down off the coast of Vietnam five hundred years ago. The rediscovery of the hoard, and how it was released to the markets of the world, is the story in _Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Treasure, Archeology, and Greed Off the Coast of Vietnam_ (Harcourt) by Frank Pope. Pope was an immediate observer of much of what is described here; he was the archeological manager for the expedition, the most expensive underwater archeological excavation ever, involving scores of divers, archeologists, seamen, draftsmen, and support personnel like cooks. There is the suspense of working within dangerous depths here, but most of the book's well-narrated drama comes from the conflicting dual motives of the expedition.

The two main characters of the book neatly illustrate the dual motives. Ong Soo Hin is a Malaysian businessman. He might be described as a "smash and grab" salvager, with success in bringing up artistic treasures. He was no archeologist, but realized that there was some worth in keeping an academic arm to his researches; archeologists documenting his finds could well increase the value of them because of giving them credible context and history. He teamed up with Mensun Bound, an academic who was the director of the Maritime Archeology unit at Oxford University (the author is one of his protégés). This was a risk for Bound, since it was unseemly for a professor to break ranks with academia and join in a commercial venture. The difficulties in Bound's position are clear. He would provide an only chance that the contents of the wreck could yield historical information rather than just profit, and if he did not do so, then the wreck would be sacrificed to mere profiteers. The _Hoi An_ was already a target for unsystematic dredging by fishermen who were not only pulling up finds but damaging many by the way they were doing so. There was no way such a difficult excavation could be funded just by, say, Oxford University, and Bound felt he was making the best of what could have been an archeological disaster otherwise. Throughout the excavation, partners Bound and Ong repeatedly bothered one another in ways both rational and puerile, and the duel is fascinating to watch. It takes place in the middle of the most advanced technology for such salvage, and Pope's description of technical aspects of diving, and of the dangers connected to it, is excellent.

It isn't surprising that with competing motivations that interfered with each other, the dive should not be a success. The problem was not that there was limited treasure; over a quarter of a million items were successfully brought up. Indeed, part of the problem may have been that because Vietnamese ceramics from this period are rare, there are few knowledgeable collectors of it and the _Hoi An_ finds represented a huge glut in a small market. That the losses were in the millions meant that the proposed academic reports were delayed, perhaps forever, and also there was an ugly academic squabble about the dating of the finds. All that money and effort went for little real gain, and so to read Pope's book is to be reminded of the frequent futility of human planning and endeavor. Pope ends with the reminder that there are countless other valuable wrecks out there and with the hope that somehow we will find a way to appreciate both their financial and their historic value, but this fascinating and pessimistic book itself gives little hope.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen "Just as the moon lures the tides, the ocean tugs at a man's mind." 18. Januar 2007
Von Mary Whipple - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In describing the excavation of a junk which sank off the north coast of Viet Nam in the mid-fifteenth century, Frank Pope focuses on the people who engage in excavation work--the maritime archaeologist vs. the treasure hunter, the financiers who supply the funds that make underwater excavation possible, the looters (often fishermen) who damage sites, the academics who engage in fierce competition for recognition within the field, and the divers, who have to live underwater in small, pressurized containers for over a month at a time. He also includes the history of maritime archaeology, detailed descriptions of the equipment which has evolved to make deep dives possible, the status of current technology in the field, and the complex systems which support "saturation divers," who may be working at eight atmospheres of pressure.

The discovery of almost a million rare Vietnamese porcelain and ceramic artifacts from the fifteenth century represents less than half this book. Providing inside information about this excavation, the author sets up contrasts between this project, in which archaeologists map the site, set up grids, and record and label every object, and the plundering done by treasure hunters whose sole objective is to take out and sell as many valuable artifacts as possible. The tense relationship between the financier of the project, who wants to recoup his investment, and those managing the project, who want to discover as much new information as possible, plagues the endeavor from start to finish.

The author is quite lyrical at the beginning of the book, explaining his own fascination with the undersea world and telling an imaginary story of the sinking of this ancient junk, but he soon begins to describe in great detail every aspect of this recovery project--and many other projects in which he and other members of the archaeological team previously took part. While this, and technical information, such as the photoluminescent testing of ceramics for dates and the history of diving helmets, will interest many readers, it delays the story of the excavation itself until halfway through the book, and readers expecting excitement may become impatient.

The excavation itself is fascinating and filled with danger as a result of the financier's refusal to use the safest (more expensive) equipment. A complete account sure to interest serious marine archaeologists, art historians, and those seeking the inside story of how one plans and conducts major maritime archaeological projects, the book is longer on detail than action. With its focus on the conflicting views within the field of preservation, however, Pope raises serious questions which the ironic conclusion intensifies. n Mary Whipple
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Diving for Dragons 28. September 2009
Von Jeannie Mancini - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
In the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam, author Frank Pope joins archaeologist Mensun Bound, and a large crew of divers and specialists as they locate the shipwreck of a 14th century cargo ship they dub the Hoi An.

Pope has the reader totally engrossed as he details one of the largest underwater archaeological finds to date. Step by step he brings you into the world of what it takes to begin a maritime recovery endeavor of this magnitude. As you start the early pages Pope pulls you down quickly into the unknown depths and new frontiers that the lure of the sea always brings. The magic realm of what lies beneath sun sparkled crested waves can soon turn into an abyss of danger if diving protocols and precautions are not adhered to.

Starting with a brief history of some of the pioneer divers and oceanographers such as Jacques Cousteau, and of the evolution of the technology and diving equipment they used and developed over the years, Frank Pope swims steadily along as he provides the reader with an up-front and personal look at the many tasks and challenges the crew encounters every inch of the way. From finally finding the Hoi An, and describing every gliche and conquest against what seemed like an endless amount of insurmountable odds, to the end result of finding a treasure that far exceeded what they had expected to unearth beneath the sea, this true story is a top-notch adventure ride. The intended hoard that is expected to be lifted topside is a large cache of close to one million pieces of Vietnamese ceramics. Thousands of hand painted dishes, ewers, pots, boxes, and other items of personal possessions that might have belonged to crew members, or passengers, were raised up to the surface day after day.

With obstacles such as tight budgets, a greedy financer who overworks the divers into sessions of dangerous exhaustion, the fear of improper decompression regulations, multiple high level storms during Typhoon Season, and the curious difficulty of dating the wreck and the uncertainty of whether the treasure is worth hauling up, this book is an informative and an exciting read. Any shipwreck or treasure hunter enthusiast would find this an intriguing book of exploration that offers up both the mystery and thrills of archaeology, as well as a hardnosed realistic point of view of the high price that is paid in both investment of funds, time, and in physical danger. From the first splash dive to the anti-climactic auction at Butterfield's, this an eye-opening read both sensational and scary. I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Sea and only have one small gripe. It needed photographs. The author inserts fanciful hand drawings but a center section of color glossy site and artifact photos would have enhanced the presentation of this book 100%.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Real Page Turner 8. März 2007
Von SeldomSeenSmith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Some years ago, I happened on several Ebay auctions of blue and white covered jars and bowls which were part of the Hoi An Hoard. The description said they were 500 years old and had been recovered from the bottom of the South China Sea. I did some quick Internet reading on the Hoi An Hoard and my interest was sparked. I bought several lots of the beautiful pottery which had rested on the sea floor since before Columbus came to the New World. (From reading Dragon Sea I now know that they are pieces of lesser interest and beauty!)

I recently read that a book had been written about the salvage operation. I quickly ordered Dragon Sea. I read it just as quickly. The story of the Hoi An Hoard is a well written, fascinating tale full of bad guys, good guys and really over worked guys. It is the tale of fortunes won and fortunes lost by gambling on the sea and its hidden treasures. Author Frank Pope, who was actually involved in the Hoi An operation, weaves a quick moving story with wonderful characters. The best part is that those characters are real people -- each with an agenda of his own. The book is filled with wonderful detail -- from the spraying of the beer girls to the skin conditions of the saturation divers who worked for more than a month at incredible depths. But Pope's very best descriptions are of being caught at sea when the Dragon Strikes and the crew and barge are caught in the teeth of a major typhoon. You feel as if you are really there -- and are glad you're not. Pope teaches about sunken treasure, saturation diving,archeology and the politics of academia with ease.

I no more than put the book down than my husband snatched it up. He read deep into last night and awoke this morning with his glasses still perched on the end of his nose. Two thumbs up from our household! P.S. I treasure my 500 year old jars from the bottom of the South China Sea even more now that I know the amazing story of suffering, intrigue and greed which brought them to me.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A book like this should have been written earlier! 23. April 2007
Von PA1120 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I thank Frank Pope for writing such a powerful book on the tragic fate of the Hoi An Hoard. Judging from the dearth of book on this important archaeological discovery and the fascinating aspects of Vietnamese ceramics, the book is indeed very timely and does some justice those treasures.

I picked up this book by accident and was riveted for the whole afternoon, until the very last sentence. Pope had a unique perspective on the whole project, and the book has a great balance between more action-based narrative and probing thoughts on the dilemma of money vs. knowledge, as the reader is drawn into the tumultuous months in the sea during the excavations.

I just hope that everyone reading this will appreciate such discovery, and also the importance of preserving the treasures of humankind varied past.
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