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In the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm comes a true tale of riveting adventure in which two weekend scuba divers risk everything to solve a great historical mystery–and make history themselves.

For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
But in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a World War II German U-boat, its ruined interior a macabre wasteland of twisted metal, tangled wires, and human bones–all buried under decades of accumulated sediment.
No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location.

Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked on a quest to solve the mystery. Some of them would not live to see its end. Chatterton and Kohler, at first bitter rivals, would be drawn into a friendship that deepened to an almost mystical sense of brotherhood with each other and with the drowned U-boat sailors–former enemies of their country. As the men’s marriages frayed under the pressure of a shared obsession, their dives grew more daring, and each realized that he was hunting more than the identities of a lost U-boat and its nameless crew.

Author Robert Kurson’s account of this quest is at once thrilling and emotionally complex, and it is written with a vivid sense of what divers actually experience when they meet the dangers of the ocean’s underworld. The story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, two hundred thirty feet down, in the deep blue sea.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Robert Kurson's Pirate Hunters.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9781588362490
List price: $12.99
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Great story -thrilling and suspenseful - but it just had a bit too much ego to be a super top-notch book. The story itself was awesome and, fortunately, the ego-stroking of the incredibly unbelievably great guys is not overwhelming. (just distracting)more
From the author: "While researching the dangers of deep-shipwreck diving, I was struck by a remark that the divers make about depth. The mystery . . . lay in such deep, dark waters that occasionally they could do little more than dive at shadows. It occurred to me then that there were shadows cast throughout the story - by the fallen crewmen, by World War II, by the seeming infallibility of written history, by questions the divers came to ask about themselves as men. For six years, Chatterton and Kohler were shadow divers. For six years, they went on a remarkable journey. I wrote this book to take you there with them."In Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson does a masterful job of taking us there with them. And what a story it is. A late night meeting in a bar leads to the sharing of coordinates for a mysterious ocean location off the New Jersey shore where fish and other sea life congregate - often the sign of a wreck. But whatever it is, it's very deep, maybe too deep, in the water.Wreck diving is a dangerous sport - people die attempting it. There are only a few hundred divers in the U.S. who try it, and only a few, the top elite, can handle deep dives beyond 200 feet. One big reason why is narcosis. Divers breathe a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen (and, in more recent times, helium), and the nitrogen building up in the blood under increasing pressure from the dive's depth diminishes the senses, narrowing vision, impairing reasoning, and sometimes creating hallucinations. It is necessary to stay calm, even while impaired like this, and not run through your oxygen with anxious breathing , and to make good, life-saving decisions, sometimes in a wreck full of potential traps, and always in a huge ocean that will be your death if you lose your way back to your boat. Only a few can begin to do what is necessary, and even some of those fail in the end.At one point, one of the wreck divers sees crabs emerging from the ocean floor and talking to him, urging him to follow them away from the wreck and away from the life-saving line back up to the boat. "He started talking to himself. 'I gotta get out of here', he said. 'Crabs are talking to me. When a crab talks it's time to go home.'"The two central characters in this story, Chatterton and Kohler, are fascinating. Both were bright men who were fish out of water (!) in school, searching for something to give their life meaning. Chatterton became a heroic medic in Viet Nam. Kohler kicked around, but later found his keen interest and self-taught education in his German ancestry and World War II to be an essential component of solving the book's mystery. Chatterton is a deep and methodical thinker, even developing a carefully rendered set of beliefs in Viet Nam. That list of beliefs begins - "If an undertaking was easy, someone else would already have done it." -"If you follow in another's footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving." - "Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these, and you become average." You can see the type of person we're talking about. He maximizes success and minimizes danger by studying wrecks first, including videotaping them at the outset to help planning, and yet in Viet Nam and in wreck diving, he takes chances that others would cower at.At first he is skeptical about Kohler, who initially had allied himself with a motorcycle gang-type group of divers. But Kohler's excellence in diving and passion for solving the wreck's mysteries deepens their relationship over time. They go to great lengths, not only in dangerous, tension-filled diving that has the reader on pins and needles, but in researching around the world what exactly happened to cause what they found. There is an emotional connection with the victims, and they learn that written history is sometimes very wrong. As a result, while remaining "a voracious reader of history", Kohler says, "In the back of my mind I {now} question a little bit of everything. To me, that makes history even more interesting." It does for readers of this book, too.The author's afterword in this book is one of the most gracious I've ever read, and even the "Reader's Guide" in my edition features a discussion by Kurson, Chatterton and Kohler that demonstrates how close and honest their relationship became. The result is an unlikely page turner, full of treasure of a different kind for the reader.more
This is a riveting, well written story about divers who discovered a U-boat sunk off of the New Jersey coast and their quest to identify the U-boat. It reads like a novel but in this situation, real live is more exciting and dangerous. I knew vertually nothing about wreck diving or deep sea diving and this story educates without overdoing it for novices. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and at times I could not read fast enough. It also touches on the personal side of war as one of the main divers becomes obsessed with finding the familes of the men lost on the U-boat and the sadness of losing young men in what was a losing cause.more
Gripping story and insight into the world of deep scuba diving and the pursuit of a great treasure: historical facts.more
This is an incredible book. An amazing story, well written - adventure, tragedy, history, likeable characters. The story will appeal to anyone. No need for an interest in diving or history. more
My husband and I got certified to scuba dive this past spring and I absolutely love it but I have to say that I am incredibly grateful that I didn't read this book before we took our classes. Holy toledo! The bends are a magnitude of 100 times worse than I ever imagined. But being underwater is phenomenal. I don't know that I'd ever want to do deep wreck diving; I'm probably more than content to always be one of the thousands of recreational divers out there. I will never turn down the chance to read about the men and women who dive on the edge of the knife blade though, risking their very lives, especially if the account is as gripping as Kurson's non-fiction account of the discovery and eventual identification of the mystery German U-boat laying in 230 feet of water off the coast of New Jersey, where no U-boat should have been according to official war accounts. Kurson follows the two divers who were most instrumental in the identification of the U-boat, two men who initially disliked each other but came to respect the driving force behind their different desires to dive the wreck, put a name to it, and to honor the sailors who were forever trapped in their watery grave. Kurson weaves dramatic tension throughout his narrative, even ratcheting it up as he presents the terrible tragedies of first Steve Feldman's death and then Chris and Chrissy Rouse's. He never minimizes the risks taken by all of the divers although his main focus remains on Vietnam vet John Chatterton, who ultimately pulled the spare parts box that would identify the wreck and Richie Kohler, who felt such a responsibility to the long dead sailors that he traveled to Germany to meet with their families. Kurson does tend to neglect many of the other divers, especially those on the initial dives, mentioning their names briefly but without offering any suggestion of their impressions or contributions. However, his laser focus on Chatterton and Kohler makes for a tight and thrilling narrative that will keep readers, even those with zero knowledge of diving, on the edge of their seats. His descriptions of the dangers inherent in deep water diving, especially in the 90's, before nitrox mixes gained ascendency for such dives, are absolutely heart pounding. And he is spot on when detailing the swirling mess of sediment that contributes to zero visibility. Kurson does not shy away from graphic descriptions of the physical effects of the bends or from the vision of what a drowned body would look like after 5 months in the water and these descriptions will induce horror indeed but they reinforce the dangers and their potential results to which these wreck divers willingly and repeatedly expose themselves. The book is not all diving though; it is also an historical mystery and Kurson takes the reader along as, much to the dismay of Chatterton and Kohler, each credible theory about the identity of the U-boat falls apart. As the wreck continued to withhold its secrets, the divers had to do archival research and in the process discovered that history as it is written is not always accurate and true. And as they waded through both the factual and the murky, they learn quite a bit about U-boats themselves. At the end of the narrative, as the quest for the boat's identity is coming to its conclusion, Kurson also draws a very credible picture of life on this particular U-boat as well as the lives of the lost crew members. The writing is polished and the story exciting. I gulped the book down in a little over a day, pulled ever onward by the mystery and the persistence of these men. Dramatic and intense, this was a cracking good read. I just hope the image of what happens to your blood in extreme cases of the bends fades from my head before I have the chance to put a regulator in my mouth again.more
Wow I enjoyed this book, it's unusually good. The movie is coming out in 2013. A mystery drives the book forward, a mystery so difficult to crack but compelling it kills a few people who try to solve it. Along the way we learn tons of interesting things about wreck diving, diving culture, WWII submarines, Vietnam, historiography (the creation of history), modern U-boat culture, and much else. I was sorry when it ended but enjoyed the trip. One of my fav books of the year.more
This is one of those rare books that, for me, was truly, un-put-down-able. The rest of life seemed a bit like filler until I got back to it. Luckily, it is a fairly quick read and I only lost two days of my life. But it was time well spent. This book is just awesome, gripping, educational and just downright interesting on many levels. It has been summarized many times, so I will not do that again. But I think what isn't said too much is how this is so much more than a story about some divers finding a U-boat. It touches on what exactly is history, how it gets recorded and whether it can even be trusted, how to think outside the box when all the fax lead you inside of it, what drives a man to extremes to solve life's mysteries and one of the themes that came up time and time again is how who we are is truly told in times of struggle. I loved the backgrounds and lives of the divers as well as the WWII/U-Boat history and mystery. There is also fascinating folklore about deep sea Altlantic wreck divers and the whole weird culture of it ~ where one small panic can easily cause death, but respect is earned for a lifetime. Kurson is a great writer for the subject matter and he really made every scene come alive. My Dad was not kidding when he said, "You will find yourself holding your breath at times." Highly recommended.more
This book tells the story of several divers who explored the wreck of a German World War II submarine off the coast of New Jersey, and especially of two divers who worked to identify the U-boat. The author writes well, although I found it somewhat breathless, and the chapters on the German submariners (who all perished, save for one man left behind in Germany for medical reasons) turn a pointless waste of lives into a kind of brutally sentimental heroism. Although the American divers are presented sympathetically, most of them have demons of one kind or another - some are killed by their demons, others by horrible diving accidents. If you stop to think about it, you can see just how much skill the author has, to have arranged the story in a way that emphasizes heroism and presents the identification of the U-boat as a triumph. An equally valid but more bitter telling would emphasize the codes of masculinity that drove both the German sailors and the American divers to place themselves at such great risk, and ask whether identifying this submarine really did anything to redeem either set of losses. As one who is totally unfamiliar with the culture of deep sea diving, I was also struck by the tomb-robbing element of the dives -- the archeologists I know would be utterly disgusted at that kind of approach to artifacts on land, and I wondered what an aquatic archeologist would make of this book.more
Off I went again...reading a book on a subject I have absolutely no interest in...recommended by a friend I trust. I am so glad I took her word for it. An absolutely enthralling book that hooked me right from the first chapter. The story about finding a submarine off the Jersey Shore and the struggle over years to identify it was definitely a page-turner. Its also a story about how this project brought two men who started out not really liking each other together with a common attachment to the project for different reasons. I enjoyed it so much I rented the NOVA presentation of "Hitler's Lost U-Boat" mentioned in the Epilogue) from the library just to see more of this great story.more
Shadow Divers is one of the most compelling pieces of non-fiction I've ever read. With elements of a fictional thriller -- including a haunting mystery, extreme danger and driving (or diving) obsessions -- readers will wonder why on earth two men would risk their lives repeatedly to identify an enemy U-boat and, at the same time, admire their commitment to the dead men left on board.more
What makes people take the type of risks they do? This is a true adventure story that rivals fiction with intense action. This is a true adventure story about a group of deep wreck divers, who discover a sunken German U-boat sixty miles off the New Jersey coast. It becomes an amazing story, as two of the most prominent divers, try to unravel the mysteries of this lost sub, taking many years and costing several lives in their relentless quest. This author immerses the reader in deep diving culture, which is both thrilling and very deadly. Highly recommended! Every once and awhile you read a really great book. This was one.more
Every once and awhile you read a really great book. This was one. What makes people take the type of risks they do? I saw the PBS special based on the book and still read this. It was interesting and informative.more
A true adventure story that rivals fiction with intense action. I was glad to get this recommendation from an associate and find that it contained everything requested. This story about two deep-sea wreck divers and their passionate commitment to research and discovery in the face of extreme danger is remarkable in its coverage of real persons, the technical aspects of deep-wreck diving and historical events, all at once. So much to learn and experience along the way to solving the mystery of a Nazi U-boat sunk just 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. A good choice for the adventure reader.more
Got this one from Audible. Took me quite a while to finish it. It was OK, not the best adventure book, but good.more
Loved this account - so interesting. I learned a lot about diving but got to read a book that read like a novel.more
This is a true adventure story about a group of deep wreck divers, who discover a sunken German U-boat sixty miles off the New Jersey coast, back in 1991. It becomes an amazing story, as two of the most prominent divers, try to unravel the mysteries of this lost sub, taking many years and costing several lives in their relentless quest. This author immerses the reader in deep diving culture, which is both thrilling and very deadly. Highly recommended!more
I first read "First Dive" by Bernie Chowdry and then my Dad gave me this one... I hesitated to read it because I loved Bernie's telling of the story so much. I knew the Rouses so well after that book that it seemed to me that this book was just a retelling of their fateful dive. I am very happy that I finally picked it up! It is not a re-telling... it is the story of John and Richie's quest to identify this sunken submarine. Chris and Chrissy's dive was a very small and tragic part of the story. Very well written, researched and crafted. You must read it.more
What a fantastic read! This is the story of two deep wreck divers, John Chatterton and Ritchie Kohler who work together to identify a sunken U-boat off the coast of New Jersey.Mr. Kurson has written a great adventure/detectivie story. And more. His extensive research provides insight into the role of U-boats in WWII, and to conditions on those boats. He also explains deep sea diving technologies and risks.Mr. Kurson rounds out this excellent tale with sharing insights into the personal motivations and philosophies of the divers. He includes the stories of the crew who died on the U-boat. This comprehensive treatment had me totally enthralled. I found the epilogue is espeically moving.You don't have to be a history buff or a diver to enjoy this great story of courage, but more importantly, of commitment to your values as a person.more
I totally loved this book!more
Some books are meant to be read in one go, and this book is one of them. I read it in two days, loathing the times when I had to put it down for work or much needed sleep. Shadow Divers tells the true story of some adventurous men, deep wreck divers, who found a mysterious U-boat wreck off New Jersey. To discover the identity of the boat the divers did extensive research in US and German war archives and history and made many dives to the treacherous wreck located at 230ft of water depth in the strong current and the roaring waves of the cold Atlantic Sea. The dives were peppered with near misses and accidents, and claimed divers' lives, such was the danger. To me the book is very captivating because as a diver I love to hear dive stories, and this book tells the stories of the elite group of divers, the SAS of the diving world. Not only these are great divers, they are also legends because they were pioneers, they did their daring dives when the diving technology is not yet like now. They are also adventurers and explorers and it is our nature to admire this kind of breed. The book is also very absorbing because it tells the moving story of another group of brave people - the crew of the German U-boat, young people whose brief lives were caught in a war. Another engrossing aspect of the book is the mystery. Not until almost the end of the book that we get the true identity of the U boat, so the journey became a thrill to us the readers. Robert Kurson worked very closely with the main actors in the story, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, and in the end note he ensures people of the closeness of his story to the true story by citing the sources. Kurson's writing style can sometimes be a bit annoying from trying too hard to make the story telling too gripping with the short sentences and the overused of superlatives for his heroes. They seem like people who can do no wrong. Duh. Also, there is one thing this book makes me uncomfortable - the glorifying of divers taking prizes from wrecks. My main diving principle includes taking nothing from the sea and many of these divers seem to be gloating in stripping a wreck bare. Sad.However, it is a good and inspiring book to read. Divers and non divers alike, history buffs and the non historical kind will find it enjoyable and entertaining.more
The first 100 pages was mostly background on diving and was a little slow at first. After you get over that the book is an excellent way to spend the weekend. For me it combined to of my favorite reading topics WWII and submarines.more
A captivating work of nonfiction wreck divers who discover a sunken u-boat where none was ever reported off the Jersey shore. Their efforts to solve the mystery of which U-boat they found and how it sank make a fascinating tale. The writing isn't superlative but the story is very well put together; I couldn't put it down. (Note: A later work by Gentile purporting to debunk the authenticity of many details in this book has received very poor reviews.)more
This book is principally the story of two American divers who risk their lives to explore and identify the wreck of a WWII U-Boat. Rich with adversity, adventure and war history, the author's enthusiasm for the tale (which in turn is lit by the dedication and determination of the divers themselves) lends the writing that elusive thrill of perfect retelling. The balance of back-story of the men who explored the wreck, the detail and technical information, the history, the suspense of the dives themselves and smattering of other, relevant wreck-diving tales is all melded into a chase story that enthrals as it informs. Despite the incredible depth (sorry!) and breadth of Kurson’s research, the story is ultimately about the two men who proceed against the advice of friends, in the face of death, to prove to themselves who they are in the face of adversity, and to return the final story of the lost crew to their surviving relatives in Germany.more
A fantastic book! A very well told adventure!more
A great detective story. Obsessive, tenacious divers solve the mystery of a submarine wreck off the New Jersey coast.more
My favorite book of all time!more
Slow to start but interesting if you stick with it.more
Read all 29 reviews

Reviews

Great story -thrilling and suspenseful - but it just had a bit too much ego to be a super top-notch book. The story itself was awesome and, fortunately, the ego-stroking of the incredibly unbelievably great guys is not overwhelming. (just distracting)more
From the author: "While researching the dangers of deep-shipwreck diving, I was struck by a remark that the divers make about depth. The mystery . . . lay in such deep, dark waters that occasionally they could do little more than dive at shadows. It occurred to me then that there were shadows cast throughout the story - by the fallen crewmen, by World War II, by the seeming infallibility of written history, by questions the divers came to ask about themselves as men. For six years, Chatterton and Kohler were shadow divers. For six years, they went on a remarkable journey. I wrote this book to take you there with them."In Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson does a masterful job of taking us there with them. And what a story it is. A late night meeting in a bar leads to the sharing of coordinates for a mysterious ocean location off the New Jersey shore where fish and other sea life congregate - often the sign of a wreck. But whatever it is, it's very deep, maybe too deep, in the water.Wreck diving is a dangerous sport - people die attempting it. There are only a few hundred divers in the U.S. who try it, and only a few, the top elite, can handle deep dives beyond 200 feet. One big reason why is narcosis. Divers breathe a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen (and, in more recent times, helium), and the nitrogen building up in the blood under increasing pressure from the dive's depth diminishes the senses, narrowing vision, impairing reasoning, and sometimes creating hallucinations. It is necessary to stay calm, even while impaired like this, and not run through your oxygen with anxious breathing , and to make good, life-saving decisions, sometimes in a wreck full of potential traps, and always in a huge ocean that will be your death if you lose your way back to your boat. Only a few can begin to do what is necessary, and even some of those fail in the end.At one point, one of the wreck divers sees crabs emerging from the ocean floor and talking to him, urging him to follow them away from the wreck and away from the life-saving line back up to the boat. "He started talking to himself. 'I gotta get out of here', he said. 'Crabs are talking to me. When a crab talks it's time to go home.'"The two central characters in this story, Chatterton and Kohler, are fascinating. Both were bright men who were fish out of water (!) in school, searching for something to give their life meaning. Chatterton became a heroic medic in Viet Nam. Kohler kicked around, but later found his keen interest and self-taught education in his German ancestry and World War II to be an essential component of solving the book's mystery. Chatterton is a deep and methodical thinker, even developing a carefully rendered set of beliefs in Viet Nam. That list of beliefs begins - "If an undertaking was easy, someone else would already have done it." -"If you follow in another's footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving." - "Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these, and you become average." You can see the type of person we're talking about. He maximizes success and minimizes danger by studying wrecks first, including videotaping them at the outset to help planning, and yet in Viet Nam and in wreck diving, he takes chances that others would cower at.At first he is skeptical about Kohler, who initially had allied himself with a motorcycle gang-type group of divers. But Kohler's excellence in diving and passion for solving the wreck's mysteries deepens their relationship over time. They go to great lengths, not only in dangerous, tension-filled diving that has the reader on pins and needles, but in researching around the world what exactly happened to cause what they found. There is an emotional connection with the victims, and they learn that written history is sometimes very wrong. As a result, while remaining "a voracious reader of history", Kohler says, "In the back of my mind I {now} question a little bit of everything. To me, that makes history even more interesting." It does for readers of this book, too.The author's afterword in this book is one of the most gracious I've ever read, and even the "Reader's Guide" in my edition features a discussion by Kurson, Chatterton and Kohler that demonstrates how close and honest their relationship became. The result is an unlikely page turner, full of treasure of a different kind for the reader.more
This is a riveting, well written story about divers who discovered a U-boat sunk off of the New Jersey coast and their quest to identify the U-boat. It reads like a novel but in this situation, real live is more exciting and dangerous. I knew vertually nothing about wreck diving or deep sea diving and this story educates without overdoing it for novices. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and at times I could not read fast enough. It also touches on the personal side of war as one of the main divers becomes obsessed with finding the familes of the men lost on the U-boat and the sadness of losing young men in what was a losing cause.more
Gripping story and insight into the world of deep scuba diving and the pursuit of a great treasure: historical facts.more
This is an incredible book. An amazing story, well written - adventure, tragedy, history, likeable characters. The story will appeal to anyone. No need for an interest in diving or history. more
My husband and I got certified to scuba dive this past spring and I absolutely love it but I have to say that I am incredibly grateful that I didn't read this book before we took our classes. Holy toledo! The bends are a magnitude of 100 times worse than I ever imagined. But being underwater is phenomenal. I don't know that I'd ever want to do deep wreck diving; I'm probably more than content to always be one of the thousands of recreational divers out there. I will never turn down the chance to read about the men and women who dive on the edge of the knife blade though, risking their very lives, especially if the account is as gripping as Kurson's non-fiction account of the discovery and eventual identification of the mystery German U-boat laying in 230 feet of water off the coast of New Jersey, where no U-boat should have been according to official war accounts. Kurson follows the two divers who were most instrumental in the identification of the U-boat, two men who initially disliked each other but came to respect the driving force behind their different desires to dive the wreck, put a name to it, and to honor the sailors who were forever trapped in their watery grave. Kurson weaves dramatic tension throughout his narrative, even ratcheting it up as he presents the terrible tragedies of first Steve Feldman's death and then Chris and Chrissy Rouse's. He never minimizes the risks taken by all of the divers although his main focus remains on Vietnam vet John Chatterton, who ultimately pulled the spare parts box that would identify the wreck and Richie Kohler, who felt such a responsibility to the long dead sailors that he traveled to Germany to meet with their families. Kurson does tend to neglect many of the other divers, especially those on the initial dives, mentioning their names briefly but without offering any suggestion of their impressions or contributions. However, his laser focus on Chatterton and Kohler makes for a tight and thrilling narrative that will keep readers, even those with zero knowledge of diving, on the edge of their seats. His descriptions of the dangers inherent in deep water diving, especially in the 90's, before nitrox mixes gained ascendency for such dives, are absolutely heart pounding. And he is spot on when detailing the swirling mess of sediment that contributes to zero visibility. Kurson does not shy away from graphic descriptions of the physical effects of the bends or from the vision of what a drowned body would look like after 5 months in the water and these descriptions will induce horror indeed but they reinforce the dangers and their potential results to which these wreck divers willingly and repeatedly expose themselves. The book is not all diving though; it is also an historical mystery and Kurson takes the reader along as, much to the dismay of Chatterton and Kohler, each credible theory about the identity of the U-boat falls apart. As the wreck continued to withhold its secrets, the divers had to do archival research and in the process discovered that history as it is written is not always accurate and true. And as they waded through both the factual and the murky, they learn quite a bit about U-boats themselves. At the end of the narrative, as the quest for the boat's identity is coming to its conclusion, Kurson also draws a very credible picture of life on this particular U-boat as well as the lives of the lost crew members. The writing is polished and the story exciting. I gulped the book down in a little over a day, pulled ever onward by the mystery and the persistence of these men. Dramatic and intense, this was a cracking good read. I just hope the image of what happens to your blood in extreme cases of the bends fades from my head before I have the chance to put a regulator in my mouth again.more
Wow I enjoyed this book, it's unusually good. The movie is coming out in 2013. A mystery drives the book forward, a mystery so difficult to crack but compelling it kills a few people who try to solve it. Along the way we learn tons of interesting things about wreck diving, diving culture, WWII submarines, Vietnam, historiography (the creation of history), modern U-boat culture, and much else. I was sorry when it ended but enjoyed the trip. One of my fav books of the year.more
This is one of those rare books that, for me, was truly, un-put-down-able. The rest of life seemed a bit like filler until I got back to it. Luckily, it is a fairly quick read and I only lost two days of my life. But it was time well spent. This book is just awesome, gripping, educational and just downright interesting on many levels. It has been summarized many times, so I will not do that again. But I think what isn't said too much is how this is so much more than a story about some divers finding a U-boat. It touches on what exactly is history, how it gets recorded and whether it can even be trusted, how to think outside the box when all the fax lead you inside of it, what drives a man to extremes to solve life's mysteries and one of the themes that came up time and time again is how who we are is truly told in times of struggle. I loved the backgrounds and lives of the divers as well as the WWII/U-Boat history and mystery. There is also fascinating folklore about deep sea Altlantic wreck divers and the whole weird culture of it ~ where one small panic can easily cause death, but respect is earned for a lifetime. Kurson is a great writer for the subject matter and he really made every scene come alive. My Dad was not kidding when he said, "You will find yourself holding your breath at times." Highly recommended.more
This book tells the story of several divers who explored the wreck of a German World War II submarine off the coast of New Jersey, and especially of two divers who worked to identify the U-boat. The author writes well, although I found it somewhat breathless, and the chapters on the German submariners (who all perished, save for one man left behind in Germany for medical reasons) turn a pointless waste of lives into a kind of brutally sentimental heroism. Although the American divers are presented sympathetically, most of them have demons of one kind or another - some are killed by their demons, others by horrible diving accidents. If you stop to think about it, you can see just how much skill the author has, to have arranged the story in a way that emphasizes heroism and presents the identification of the U-boat as a triumph. An equally valid but more bitter telling would emphasize the codes of masculinity that drove both the German sailors and the American divers to place themselves at such great risk, and ask whether identifying this submarine really did anything to redeem either set of losses. As one who is totally unfamiliar with the culture of deep sea diving, I was also struck by the tomb-robbing element of the dives -- the archeologists I know would be utterly disgusted at that kind of approach to artifacts on land, and I wondered what an aquatic archeologist would make of this book.more
Off I went again...reading a book on a subject I have absolutely no interest in...recommended by a friend I trust. I am so glad I took her word for it. An absolutely enthralling book that hooked me right from the first chapter. The story about finding a submarine off the Jersey Shore and the struggle over years to identify it was definitely a page-turner. Its also a story about how this project brought two men who started out not really liking each other together with a common attachment to the project for different reasons. I enjoyed it so much I rented the NOVA presentation of "Hitler's Lost U-Boat" mentioned in the Epilogue) from the library just to see more of this great story.more
Shadow Divers is one of the most compelling pieces of non-fiction I've ever read. With elements of a fictional thriller -- including a haunting mystery, extreme danger and driving (or diving) obsessions -- readers will wonder why on earth two men would risk their lives repeatedly to identify an enemy U-boat and, at the same time, admire their commitment to the dead men left on board.more
What makes people take the type of risks they do? This is a true adventure story that rivals fiction with intense action. This is a true adventure story about a group of deep wreck divers, who discover a sunken German U-boat sixty miles off the New Jersey coast. It becomes an amazing story, as two of the most prominent divers, try to unravel the mysteries of this lost sub, taking many years and costing several lives in their relentless quest. This author immerses the reader in deep diving culture, which is both thrilling and very deadly. Highly recommended! Every once and awhile you read a really great book. This was one.more
Every once and awhile you read a really great book. This was one. What makes people take the type of risks they do? I saw the PBS special based on the book and still read this. It was interesting and informative.more
A true adventure story that rivals fiction with intense action. I was glad to get this recommendation from an associate and find that it contained everything requested. This story about two deep-sea wreck divers and their passionate commitment to research and discovery in the face of extreme danger is remarkable in its coverage of real persons, the technical aspects of deep-wreck diving and historical events, all at once. So much to learn and experience along the way to solving the mystery of a Nazi U-boat sunk just 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. A good choice for the adventure reader.more
Got this one from Audible. Took me quite a while to finish it. It was OK, not the best adventure book, but good.more
Loved this account - so interesting. I learned a lot about diving but got to read a book that read like a novel.more
This is a true adventure story about a group of deep wreck divers, who discover a sunken German U-boat sixty miles off the New Jersey coast, back in 1991. It becomes an amazing story, as two of the most prominent divers, try to unravel the mysteries of this lost sub, taking many years and costing several lives in their relentless quest. This author immerses the reader in deep diving culture, which is both thrilling and very deadly. Highly recommended!more
I first read "First Dive" by Bernie Chowdry and then my Dad gave me this one... I hesitated to read it because I loved Bernie's telling of the story so much. I knew the Rouses so well after that book that it seemed to me that this book was just a retelling of their fateful dive. I am very happy that I finally picked it up! It is not a re-telling... it is the story of John and Richie's quest to identify this sunken submarine. Chris and Chrissy's dive was a very small and tragic part of the story. Very well written, researched and crafted. You must read it.more
What a fantastic read! This is the story of two deep wreck divers, John Chatterton and Ritchie Kohler who work together to identify a sunken U-boat off the coast of New Jersey.Mr. Kurson has written a great adventure/detectivie story. And more. His extensive research provides insight into the role of U-boats in WWII, and to conditions on those boats. He also explains deep sea diving technologies and risks.Mr. Kurson rounds out this excellent tale with sharing insights into the personal motivations and philosophies of the divers. He includes the stories of the crew who died on the U-boat. This comprehensive treatment had me totally enthralled. I found the epilogue is espeically moving.You don't have to be a history buff or a diver to enjoy this great story of courage, but more importantly, of commitment to your values as a person.more
I totally loved this book!more
Some books are meant to be read in one go, and this book is one of them. I read it in two days, loathing the times when I had to put it down for work or much needed sleep. Shadow Divers tells the true story of some adventurous men, deep wreck divers, who found a mysterious U-boat wreck off New Jersey. To discover the identity of the boat the divers did extensive research in US and German war archives and history and made many dives to the treacherous wreck located at 230ft of water depth in the strong current and the roaring waves of the cold Atlantic Sea. The dives were peppered with near misses and accidents, and claimed divers' lives, such was the danger. To me the book is very captivating because as a diver I love to hear dive stories, and this book tells the stories of the elite group of divers, the SAS of the diving world. Not only these are great divers, they are also legends because they were pioneers, they did their daring dives when the diving technology is not yet like now. They are also adventurers and explorers and it is our nature to admire this kind of breed. The book is also very absorbing because it tells the moving story of another group of brave people - the crew of the German U-boat, young people whose brief lives were caught in a war. Another engrossing aspect of the book is the mystery. Not until almost the end of the book that we get the true identity of the U boat, so the journey became a thrill to us the readers. Robert Kurson worked very closely with the main actors in the story, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, and in the end note he ensures people of the closeness of his story to the true story by citing the sources. Kurson's writing style can sometimes be a bit annoying from trying too hard to make the story telling too gripping with the short sentences and the overused of superlatives for his heroes. They seem like people who can do no wrong. Duh. Also, there is one thing this book makes me uncomfortable - the glorifying of divers taking prizes from wrecks. My main diving principle includes taking nothing from the sea and many of these divers seem to be gloating in stripping a wreck bare. Sad.However, it is a good and inspiring book to read. Divers and non divers alike, history buffs and the non historical kind will find it enjoyable and entertaining.more
The first 100 pages was mostly background on diving and was a little slow at first. After you get over that the book is an excellent way to spend the weekend. For me it combined to of my favorite reading topics WWII and submarines.more
A captivating work of nonfiction wreck divers who discover a sunken u-boat where none was ever reported off the Jersey shore. Their efforts to solve the mystery of which U-boat they found and how it sank make a fascinating tale. The writing isn't superlative but the story is very well put together; I couldn't put it down. (Note: A later work by Gentile purporting to debunk the authenticity of many details in this book has received very poor reviews.)more
This book is principally the story of two American divers who risk their lives to explore and identify the wreck of a WWII U-Boat. Rich with adversity, adventure and war history, the author's enthusiasm for the tale (which in turn is lit by the dedication and determination of the divers themselves) lends the writing that elusive thrill of perfect retelling. The balance of back-story of the men who explored the wreck, the detail and technical information, the history, the suspense of the dives themselves and smattering of other, relevant wreck-diving tales is all melded into a chase story that enthrals as it informs. Despite the incredible depth (sorry!) and breadth of Kurson’s research, the story is ultimately about the two men who proceed against the advice of friends, in the face of death, to prove to themselves who they are in the face of adversity, and to return the final story of the lost crew to their surviving relatives in Germany.more
A fantastic book! A very well told adventure!more
A great detective story. Obsessive, tenacious divers solve the mystery of a submarine wreck off the New Jersey coast.more
My favorite book of all time!more
Slow to start but interesting if you stick with it.more
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