So… I read some of those books the Oak Island TV show constantly references

During a stint of extended pandemic depression, I fell in love with The Curse of Oak Island. After watching untold hours of the team barely finding anything, I decided to check out some of the literature relied on by Team Lagina.

Rick and Marty are two brothers with a passion for treasure hunting. Dumping untold millions into a hole in the ground that has been pretty well documented to not have produced anything of interest for over 200 years, these guys are committed. The many fascinating and only-plausible-because-you-can-not-disprove-them theories drive all sorts of speculation, and massive investments of effort, and money, every time even a seemingly minor connection is made.

A lot of attention is given to historian and Templar researcher Zena Halpern and her book The Templar Mission to Oak Island and Beyond. Halpern's interest in Oak Island came when she was introduced to some secret Templar documents, apparently hidden in New York by the descendants of OG Templars after coming to America to sell arms. The documents themselves and the folks who researched the secrets hidden within are an interesting tale, but the results all pointed to Oak Island.

The team on Oak Island, especially brother Rick, seem to revere Halpern's work. Her theory and its derivatives have inspired several wild goose chases on the program. I found Halpern's style pretty darn hard to read, but a super interesting story. The adventure spans hundreds of years, and brings characters to the tale I had not heard discussed in any of the many documentaries I have watched.

Unfortunately, reading another oft mentioned book on Oak Island largely debunks most of Halpern's work. The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World's Longest Treasure Hunt by Randall Sullivan is more a companion to the show and Sullivan's personal story of his interest in the mystery.

Beginning with a Rolling Stone article he was commissioned to write, Sullivan got sucked into the Oak Island story. Having visited the island independently of the show and met many of the cast of characters conducting the treasure hunt for the better part of the last half-century, Sullivan has formed some pretty frank opinions about them. Half soap opera revolving around who is standing in whose way, and half research into the larger theories of the day, Sullivan provides little insight into the treasure but debunks a lot of theories and sheds some light on the who's who of legacy treasure hunters.

I also read the Joy Steele book that was mentioned on the show as an alternate theory, The Oak Island Mystery Solved: Second Edition – The Final Chapter. Steele's thesis is that there is no treasure and never was, she believes there was a large industry on the island. A lot of the discoveries in 'the swamp' suggest there is something to this, but her timing and the apparent timing of the swamp construction do not seem to jibe. Steele's book was a very short and fast read.

Sullivan is also unkind to Steele.

Next up for me will be D'Arcy O'Connor's Secret Treasure of Oak Island: The Amazing True Story of a Centuries-Old Treasure Hunt.