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"Shipwreck" gives readers exciting insight into the painstaking process of modern-day treasure hunting.

Treasure Hunt


There have been many treasure-hunting expeditions that have uncovered huge deposits of riches from the sea. The accounts of these have given readers the thrill of vicariously being along on the adventure. "Shipwreck," by Dave Horner (Sheridan House, $24.95) is no exception. This story intertwines modern-day salvage missions around the coastlines of Central and South America with the diary and writings of Padre Diego Rivadeneira in 1654 as he survives several catastrophic shipwrecks of Spanish galleons. The contemporary expeditions were headed by the author, a former Richmond resident.

Rivadeneira was a trusted emissary of the Catholic Church, commissioned to disperse funds for newly created parishes in the Spanish colonies of Ecuador, Chile and Peru. This was a period when Spain under Philip IV was the undisputed ruler of the sea and could demand tribute from its colonies at will. Unfortunately, Rivadeneira, once recalled to Spain, had the freakish misfortune to be on three treasure galleons that sank due to piloting errors or attacks by the English fleet. Miraculously, he endured the Atlantic Ocean and captivity in an English brig to recount his exploits. In each instance, millions of dollars in pesos, jewels and gold and silver ingots were lost.

In the 1990s, Dave Horner, a coordinator of salvage trips and an inveterate treasure-seeker, organized several journeys to the approximate sites where these ships were rumored to be. He was inspired to do so by his discovery of Rivadeneira's diary in the Spanish archives in Seville. He recovered some artifacts and treasures from these sunken galleons but not as much as he had hoped for.

This book is an overview of Spanish history and the gradual Spanish inroads in Central and South America. The author pays homage to Rivadeneira, whose faith did not wane under the most trying of hardships. The narrative also shows that Horner's faith also did not wane under hardship. He was prepared to probe any possibility of finding treasure, despite the tribulations of dangerous ocean condition and the difficulty of dealing with bureaucratic interference. "Shipwreck" reinforces the legacy of Spain's greatness in the 17th century and gives the reader valuable, exciting insight into the painstaking process of modern-day treasure hunting. For those who love the sea and history, this is a good read.

Dave Horner will sign his book at Barnes and Noble new store at Libbie Place, 5501 W. Broad St. on April 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Heads-Up: Charlottesville is known for its prime examples of Thomas Jefferson's architecture. But there are many other significant buildings there. The University Press of Virginia has published a large book, "The Architecture of Jefferson Country, Charlottesville and Albemarle County," by K. Edward Lay, professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, with photographs by Bill Sublette ($49.95).This is the size of a coffee-table book, but is not one that you will want to pick up and look at for beautiful color photographs — although it has some. It is a scholarly study of various periods of architecture in Albemarle and should be largely interesting to scholars and architecture

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