Treasure, Treasure Everywhere
(Books #3: January 24, 1999)
This issue's reviews are of books that I consider treasure hunters' specials. One is about treasure, one is a treasure in itself, and two point to treasure. All are adventure books of the first order, though not of the same type.
I've put links to our online bookstore with three of the books; they're special orders and may take a while to find. They're worth the search.
The Treasure Hunter,Robin Moore and Howard Jennings.
I love books about people who actually find treasure. I
found this one in one of those sidewalk book sales for
about fifty cents. Those have to be two of the best quarters
I've ever spent. I read this book again about every other
year—usually at the first of Fall. My reaction is always
the same—why am I sitting around this doghouse when I could
be in Ecuador?
The "Treasure Hunter" of the title is Howard Jennings of Miami, Florida. He and his friend Robin Moore (The Green Berets, see our online bookstore) wrote this book together, but most of the adventure is Jennings'.
The story begins simply enough with Jennings' naïve scheme to go to Colombia, buy some emeralds, and return to the U. S. to resell them to a wholesaler, who's agreed to bankroll the project. Jennings, who's been an eight-to-five type all his life, is totally new to this kind of adventure. So's his girl friend, who thinks it might be a fun alternative vacation.
In Colombia, they make contact with an emerald broker and begin to learn fast the dangers of the emerald trade.
Jennings and his friend escape intact in a knife-edge episode that would have made me say goodbye forever to South America. But he's in too deep. His hairy escape does the opposite for him. After a successful New York sale of the smuggled gems, he gets a lead on a new job, and he's off to a remote ranch in Peru, where the murderous Batres brothers are looking for electronic help looting ancient graves in a remote desert area of their ranch.
In one strange scene that effected me greatly, one brother's young son maliciously trips an old family butler while he is serving dinner, and all the family members guffaw at the old man's clumsy fall and injury. This same theme—the uncaring cruel treatment of subordinates by landowners in remote South American areas—is repeated in enough of the books I've read, and in stories told by my friends, to make me believe it must be a noteworthy characteristic of the culture and a danger to adventurers or travelers in those regions.
In a final episode that could be from a western movie, Jennings escapes from the ranch at gunpoint just as the brothers are about to kill him and bury his body in one of their digs.
In another exciting story Jennings' research leads him to what he believes is the legendary Inca gold hidden from Pisarro in a remote site on Ecuador's coast. He organizes an expedition with several of his friends and they stealthily travel into the interior, to the small village of...wait a minute! If I tell you it might spoil the story, for in The Treasure Hunter the story's the thing.
His initial exploration is very successful, and he returns to organize another expedition—this one under the guise of a student archaeology project overseen by a major university. Jennings' version of archaeology is to use the students to smuggle the gold and artifacts back home.
There are plenty of other stories in this great book, each one exciting, each disturbing, and each filled with treasure. The stories are well-developed and, best of all, true—all of them lived by Jennings and Moore over a few years' time.
Throughout the book Jennings is shown to be brave, energetic, scrupulously fair to his partners, but generally amoral as he loots Indian graves and treasure sites and smuggles the gold back to Miami for sale.
He ends with his apology for the way he conducts treasure hunts. I'm not sure that I disagree with his thesis. See what you think.
The Treasure Hunter is out of print, but check our Online Bookstore. Our associate, Amazon.com, can probably still find it for you.
Diving To Adventure,Hans Hass.
Hans Hass is one of my heroes. As I was learning diving in
the early sixties, his was a name associated with remarkable
underwater photos and movies. I especially remember one of
a diver grasping the flukes of a gigantic whale in an
infinitely large, empty sea. When I found this book in a
dark little bookshop in Boston for $1.50, I nabbed it quickly.
Diving To Adventure isn't Hass' first book, but it
covers his very early years in diving and a trip he and
two of his friends took to the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire,
Curaçao) shortly before the beginning of World War II.
Diving To Adventure begins in Europe. Hans is a student vacationing in the Mediterranean. He has just encountered a man who wears swimming goggles and fishes with a harpoon. Like the fish the man catches, Hans is hooked. He orders goggles, a harpoon, and something very new: rubber swim fins. In a short time he's spearfishing, too. Later he introduces his friends Alfred and Jeorg to the sport, and the three become spearfishing mates.
Back at school in Austria, the boys yearn for more time to fish. They hatch a plan to charter a boat and spend a month spearfishing in European coastal waters. Hans' parents are not keen on his new sport, nor on his plans for an expedition, but they are supportive and allow the plans to continue.
Hans takes the idea very seriously and designs a watertight case for his camera. With photos he might lecture at the local libraries in his home town. He also designs and builds a crude diving helmet and air pump for longer stays underwater.
Hans organizes their first expedition to the Black Sea. He charters a Yugoslavian boat and crew and sells his friends tickets for a month of recreational fishing and adventure. I was very impressed, as I read his account of the expedition, with his energy and resourcefulness in arranging the trip, and, as expedition leader, with his responsibility to his friends.
Even with many unexpected troubles on the trip, Hans and his friends agreed that it had been an unqualified success. Now they began to dream of a more ambitious expedition—to the south seas. But world tensions are growing. They have to settle for one to Bonaire, financed partly by the museum in return for specimens of ocean wildlife.
During their stay in the Caribbean, Hass' constant photography is first noticed, then suspected. Is this a Nazi spy charting the island's defenses? After an unsuccessful attempt to send the boys back to Austria, island officials declare an uneasy truce, but they continue to keep Hans and his friends under clumsy surveillance.
It is in this atmosphere of mutual suspician that the boys conduct their day-to-day life at the edge of the ocean, photographing, fishing, learning, and collecting. It seems an idyllic life—especially to me, who had the good fortune to live and dive in the Caribbean for several months.
But there is a difference between a voluntary expedition and an imprisonment. Just as the expedition is drawing to a close, the War breaks out and the boys are interned indefinitely in the islands. The expedition continues, but under tighter surveillance. Hans and his friends now want out, but it would be a little longer before they embark on another audacious plan—escape!
During his adventures in the islands, I got to know Hass and his friends. He was daring and adventuresome, yet he was also serious and very methodical. In one episode he tells how he repaired his camera, which had been flooded with salt water. His tools: a pen knife, a phonograph, and a flashlight.
Hass lived adventure, and Diving To Adventure let me get a good look at the personality and some of the events and relationships that formed the heart of this hero of mine.
Diving To Adventure is long out of print, and, unfortunately, it may not be ordered through Amazon.com. Try your local library or another book search company. It's a real treasure, and sometimes treasure must be hunted.
Fishers of Men: The Way of the Apostles,G. N. Converse, R. J. Bull, B. C. Crisler
As the Apostles carried the message of Jesus far and wide
throughout the old world they passed through many towns,
small and large. In each place they made disciples and
established congregations of God's people. Later they either
returned to see how things were going, to teach, or to solve
local problems; or they sent letters of encouragement back
to the fledgling churches. They were fulfilling their great
commission from the Lord:
"Go forth, therefore, and make all nations my disciples; baptize men everywhere in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you."The Apostles' writings, particularly those of Peter, Luke, and Paul, tell of these journeys of conversion of Jew and Gentile, modern versions of which are still underway today.
In Fishers of Men the authors follow the Apostles' paths; beginning in Jerusalem and passing through many prominent cities and provinces of the biblical Roman world: Samaria, Damascus, Tarsus, the Antiochs, Lystra and Derbe, Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Cenchrea, Ephesus, and Rome. To students of the Bible author Converse's beautiful black-and-white photos of these locations call to mind not ruined buildings, but the lives and deeds of fellow disciples, men and women like us who lived and believed in the Master twenty centuries ago. The authors give them a place to live that we can see. They also quietly remind us of something not so well known: that not a trace of those brothers or their meeting places remain identifiable today except in scripture.
For myself, intensely more interested in the world of the past than that of the future, the pictures of great Ephesus and the ruins of the temple of the many-breasted Artemis, a goddess of fertility, recall Paul and his long stay in this city; his troubles with the silversmith Demetrius; and his arrest and defense in the theatre at Ephesus. I remember Jason, a disciple forced to post Paul's bond, an unexpected test of his Christian hospitality.
Malta is here, where Paul was shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and finally, taken away to Rome for the trial that he insisted on; and, ultimately, his death.
By following, in their photos and notes, the Apostles' paths through that ancient Roman world, the authors have brought to life something lost, but never dead: the neighborhoods and environs of the beginning of Jesus' church.
Two thousand years from now there will be more places with different names, but they will still be on the same path: the way of The Way.
I found this treasure on a bargain book table at Waldenbooks. It is not still in print, but it may be obtained by special order through our associate, Amazon.com. See our Online Bookstore.
And One From The Good Book
"The First Epistle of Peter"Simon, son of Jonas
Here we are, reading someone else's mail again. This time,
because of the letter's address, to numerous unnamed Christians,
we can comfortably assume that the contents are to us, also.
In Jesus's farewell talk with His apostles He promised them
that the Holy Spirit would bring them a true remembrance of
what He had said and meant. This first letter of Peter
exemplifies that remembrance, passed on in clear words to
Christians everywhere. Peter's two letters were the last to
be accepted as true parts of the canon, or authentic scriptures.
They are notably different from the Gospels or the Acts. In
style they are simple, even crude. Their content was designed
not to establish the word of God, but to remind us that we
have already believed His word, and to encourage us to be
steadfast, patient in our belief.
Peter's first letter is one of comfort and encouragement to men and women whose allegiance to Jesus would soon be tested. Their faith, he asserts, has ancient deep roots, unknown widely until now. But now it has been made clear to everyone, though not sensible (visible) except through the eyes of their trust in Jesus. He reminds them that they were chosen long ago by God's purpose; that Jesus' resurrection from the dead is their sign of His faithfulness. They can be joyful, he says, even though they are going through troubles of many kinds. Gold which passes through the assayer's fire emerges pure, as do men who have come through trials.
Peter repeats the Apostles' general concerns for remaining pure, humble, and loyal to Jesus; to seek and find the true beauty in themselves, not shallow, exterior appearances; to remain subservient to traditional authorities in the Church and to governmental authorities.
Peter reminds the readers of the great Christian principle that converts are not always made with words, but also with exemplary personal behavior, visible over time to everyone around them.
There is an interesting riddle posed in Chapter 3, verses 19 and 20, and continued in Chapter 4, verse 6. I've not often heard these two bits connected, but they are definitely part of the same thought—that Jesus did something unprecedented during the three days he was entombed. Everyone loves a riddle, and this is a great one, worth study.
But let's not let the unknown in the riddles of the Bible distract us from the knowns, that:
To get the most from Peter's first letter, and from all the other Bible scriptures, may I suggest that you read it in at least one modern language translation, like The New International Version, and one older translation, like the King James Version or the Revised Standard Version. You can find several Bible translations in our Online Bookstore.
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See you next time for more reviews of interesting books.
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