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

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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.

About Robert Kurson

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ROBERT KURSON earned a bachelor's 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
Published June 29, 2004 by Random House. 416 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Religion & Spirituality, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In 1991, divers John Chatterton and Rich Kohler came across the buried remains of a German submarine just off the coast of New Jersey.

Aug 02 2004 | Read Full Review of Shadow Divers: The True Adven...

Book Reporter

The greatest pleasure of reading is discovering that a book you would have completely ignored, if not avoided like the plague, is one of the best books you'll read all year.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Shadow Divers: The True Adven...

Entertainment Weekly

But instead of using the U-boat as a hook to delve into the crazy subculture of wreck divers – who eagerly expose themselves to sharks, drowning, and the bends – author Robert Kurson struggles to set up his historical mystery.

Jul 09 2004 | Read Full Review of Shadow Divers: The True Adven...


In September 1991,14 deep-sea scuba divers traveled 60 miles off the New Jersey shore to a spot where a fishing boat captain had told them about a possible shipwreck lying on the ocean floor 200 or so feet below the surface.

Jun 28 2004 | Read Full Review of Shadow Divers: The True Adven...

World War II Database

With a long daily commute to my day job each weekday, recently I had noticed that the WW2 section of my local library's audio book section becoming a bit too familiar for my preference.

Jan 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Shadow Divers: The True Adven...

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