Review: Shadow Divers

Title: Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War 2
Series: Standalone
Author: Robert Kurson
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Pages: 397
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 cubes of sugar
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository

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.
(Taken from Goodreads)


I read this book for a class that I’m taking, so I went into it with no expectations. Regardless of this, I was pleasantly surprised. If you have any interest in shipwrecks or deep sea diving this book was the most informative and interesting book that I have read on the subjects.

Although it’s a non-fiction book the author went about it in a way that doesn’t make it feel like your average non-fiction book (ie. informative, straight forward, and (more often than not) pretty boring). There is plenty of action and interesting bits that it almost felt like reading a Dirk Pitt novel by Clive Cussler (minus the chauvinistic male James Bond-y bits, don’t get me wrong I love those too) The research that Kurson put into this novel is evident in the writing, hundreds of hours of interviews, tours, he even spent a night on The Seeker, the charter boat they use throughout the book, getting thrown from his bunk in the middle of a storm several times. He’s very passionate about this story, equally if not more so than the two main characters, Chatterton and Kohler.

While reading this book, I was talking about it constantly, excited over new developments in the latest chapter I had read, or spouting off facts about what happens to the human body underwater at a depth of 230ft when narrating for my baby niece. Everyone in my family has asked to borrow it! I’d say that speaks for itself.