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.
From the Hardcover edition.
I don't know why but I LOVE reading stories about submarines and undersea exploration--even tho' I can't look at the pictures. The thing is, I'm phobic about deep water and drowning, and have been since I was a very little girl. I think that's because I didn't learn to swim until I was 14. But I still read Ballard's book about finding the Titanic, and Shadow Divers was just as exciting. I really enjoyed listening to all the history of Germany's U-boats and the re-enactment of the last days of the crew of U-869, all of which gave faces and being to the shadows of the dead that Chatterton and Kohler found onboard the sub, and I loved following the detective work that helped lead to identifying the U-Who. An excellent book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, history, and adventure, all wrapped up in the same story. And if you want a thrill, check out the artist's drawing of the U-869 at Kurson's website that's EXACTLY the kind of illustration that terrifies me!
If you like diving and WW2 stories you will love this.