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Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II

by

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II Cover

 

Staff Pick

Readers energized by the suspense and adventure of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air will be captivated by this remarkable account of wreck diving and discovery. Interweaving the excitement of locating a previously undiscovered WWII German submarine wreck off the coast of New Jersey, the dangers of deep-sea diving, and the sleuthing undertaken by two divers to discover the U-boat's identity, Kurson narrates a compelling story in which lives are lost and history is rewritten.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Readers energized by the suspense and adventure of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air will be captivated by this remarkable account of wreck diving and discovery. Interweaving the excitement of locating a previously undiscovered WWII German submarine wreck off the coast of New Jersey, the dangers of deep-sea diving, and the sleuthing undertaken by two divers to discover the U-boat's identity, Kurson narrates a compelling story in which lives are lost and history is rewritten.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two recreational scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat 60 miles off the New Jersey coast. The wreck lay in 230 feet of ocean water, too deep and dangerous for all but the most accomplished scuba divers. The submarine's crew perhaps 60 men lay dead inside. No historian, expert or government had a clue as to which U-boat the divers had found. By all accounts, there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at this location. Soon, the divers realized that if they did not pursue this mystery, it would remain forever unsolved.

Over the next six years, these men devoted their lives to identifying this sunken U-boat and its crew. They became expert and well-traveled researchers, taught themselves German, befriended U-boat aces, turned back fanatics and conspiracy theorists, hunted clues in Germany, corrected history books presumed to be gospel, and constructed original and ingenious theories. In between, they made some of the most daring and dangerous scuba dives ever attempted.

Over those six years, three of their colleagues died exploring the wreck, including a father and son team. As the challenge grew more deadly and the clues dried up, the two divers once bitter rivals — became best friends. As the mystery choked their marriages and threatened to consume them, each realized that he was on more than a mission to identify a lost U-boat. Each of them, they realized, was on a mission to discover himself.

In 1997, when it looked as if the U-boat would never surrender her name, the two divers conceived a plan so daring, so risky, that each of them presumed it would end in death. The book concludes with this final dive — one that literally came down to the final breath.

Review:

"This superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. As Kurson, a writer for Esquire, narrates in this debut, the two divers next undertook a seven-year search for the U-boat's identity inside the wreck, in a multitude of archives and in a host of human memories. Along the way, Chatterton's diving cost him a marriage, and Kohler's love for his German heritage helped turn him into a serious U-boat scholar. The two lost three of their diving companions on the wreck and their mentor, Bill Nagle, to alcoholism. (Chowdhury's The Last Dive, from HarperPerennial in 2002, covers two of the divers' deaths.) The successful completion of their quest fills in a gap in WWII history — the fate of the Type IX U-boat U-869. Chatterton and Kohler's success satisfied them and a diminishing handful of U-boat survivors. While Kurson doesn't stint on technical detail, lovers of any sort of adventure tale will certainly absorb the author's excellent characterizations, and particularly his balance in describing the combat arm of the Third Reich. Felicitous cooperation between author and subject rings through every page of this rare insightful action narrative. If the publishers are dreaming of another Perfect Storm, they may get their wish. Agent, Heather Schroder.7-city author tour; first serial to Esquire; rights sold in Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K. (On sale June 29)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The play on words is irresistible: Once you dive into Kurson's estimable book, you will not surface again till the end." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Absorbing...From U-boat history to the mortal dangers of diving...Kurson explains it all, even as he's spinning a fantastic yarn that happens to be true." Newsweek

Review:

"Exquisitely researched and superbly told...will leave even armchair adventurers gasping for breath." People (Critic's Choice...four stars)

Review:

"[A] well-paced tale of adventure on the high seas." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Shadow Divers surely ranks with Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air in the realm of nonfiction adventure." Chicago Sun-Times

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jon Krakauers Into Thin Air and Sebastian Jungers 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 mens 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 Kursons 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 oceans 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.

About the Author

ROBERT KURSON earned a bachelors degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, then a law degree from Harvard Law School. After working as a features reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago magazine, he moved to Esquire as as a contributing editor. His award-winning stories have also appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He lives in the Chicago suburbs and can be reached via the Internet at www.robertkurson.com.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375508585
Subtitle:
The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Author:
Kurson, Robert
Publisher:
Random House
Location:
New York
Subject:
Military - Naval
Subject:
Military - World War II
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Europe - Germany
Subject:
Shipwrecks
Subject:
Excavations (archaeology)
Subject:
Deep diving
Subject:
Underwater archaeology
Subject:
World War, 19
Subject:
Excavations
Subject:
World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations.
Subject:
Military-World War II General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
Bd. 55
Publication Date:
20040629
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-PP COLOR PHOTO INSERT; MAP
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9.20x6.48x1.33 in. 1.55 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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History and Social Science » Military » Naval History
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
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Transportation » Nautical » Nautical Lore
Transportation » Nautical » Shipwrecks

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Random House - English 9780375508585 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Readers energized by the suspense and adventure of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air will be captivated by this remarkable account of wreck diving and discovery. Interweaving the excitement of locating a previously undiscovered WWII German submarine wreck off the coast of New Jersey, the dangers of deep-sea diving, and the sleuthing undertaken by two divers to discover the U-boat's identity, Kurson narrates a compelling story in which lives are lost and history is rewritten.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Readers energized by the suspense and adventure of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air will be captivated by this remarkable account of wreck diving and discovery. Interweaving the excitement of locating a previously undiscovered WWII German submarine wreck off the coast of New Jersey, the dangers of deep-sea diving, and the sleuthing undertaken by two divers to discover the U-boat's identity, Kurson narrates a compelling story in which lives are lost and history is rewritten.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. As Kurson, a writer for Esquire, narrates in this debut, the two divers next undertook a seven-year search for the U-boat's identity inside the wreck, in a multitude of archives and in a host of human memories. Along the way, Chatterton's diving cost him a marriage, and Kohler's love for his German heritage helped turn him into a serious U-boat scholar. The two lost three of their diving companions on the wreck and their mentor, Bill Nagle, to alcoholism. (Chowdhury's The Last Dive, from HarperPerennial in 2002, covers two of the divers' deaths.) The successful completion of their quest fills in a gap in WWII history — the fate of the Type IX U-boat U-869. Chatterton and Kohler's success satisfied them and a diminishing handful of U-boat survivors. While Kurson doesn't stint on technical detail, lovers of any sort of adventure tale will certainly absorb the author's excellent characterizations, and particularly his balance in describing the combat arm of the Third Reich. Felicitous cooperation between author and subject rings through every page of this rare insightful action narrative. If the publishers are dreaming of another Perfect Storm, they may get their wish. Agent, Heather Schroder.7-city author tour; first serial to Esquire; rights sold in Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K. (On sale June 29)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The play on words is irresistible: Once you dive into Kurson's estimable book, you will not surface again till the end."
"Review" by , "Absorbing...From U-boat history to the mortal dangers of diving...Kurson explains it all, even as he's spinning a fantastic yarn that happens to be true."
"Review" by , "Exquisitely researched and superbly told...will leave even armchair adventurers gasping for breath."
"Review" by , "[A] well-paced tale of adventure on the high seas."
"Review" by , "Shadow Divers surely ranks with Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air in the realm of nonfiction adventure."
"Synopsis" by , In the tradition of Jon Krakauers Into Thin Air and Sebastian Jungers 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 mens 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 Kursons 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 oceans 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.

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