Thirteen years ago, I began an article for Rolling Stone magazine with these lines:
Can what’s buried beneath the ground on Oak Island possibly be worth what the search for it has already cost? Six lives, scores of personal fortunes, piles of wrecked equipment, and tens of thousands of man-hours have been spent so far, and that’s not to mention the blown minds and broken spirits that lie in the wake of what is at once the world’s most famous and frustrating treasure hunt.
Still a pretty strong opening, I’d say, and the question remains a valid one. The article was published in the magazine’s January 22, 2004, edition, and every comment I heard about it was positive. I was not entirely satisfied with the piece, however, especially as time passed. I knew I’d left things out; magazine deadlines force one to work fast and the limited space in the pages of any periodical compels writers to make tough choices and sharp cuts—or to let editors make those choices and those cuts for them. It was the nagging thought that I’d accepted the semiofficial legend of Oak Island without sufficient examination, though, that truly bothered me.