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Shadow Divers: Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of WWII | [Robert Kurson]

Shadow Divers: Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of WWII

In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat, complete with its crew of 60 men, not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers, realizing the momentousness of their discovery, began probing the mystery. Over the next six years, they became expert and well-traveled researchers, taught themselves German, hunted for clues in Germany, and constructed theories corrective of the history books, all in an effort to identify this sunken U-boat and its crew.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: At the heart of this true story are two larger-than-life characters who risk everything to uncover the wreck of a WWII submarine. It is their relationship, friendship, and loyalty that make this more than just a fascinating account about the world of wreck diving. The narration by Michael Prichard is note-perfect: You actually forget that you are being read to, so you are free to experience this amazing story as though you are underwater with the divers and submariners.

Publisher's Summary

In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat, complete with its crew of 60 men, not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers, realizing the momentousness of their discovery, began probing the mystery. Over the next six years, they became expert and well-traveled researchers, taught themselves German, hunted for clues in Germany, and constructed theories corrective of the history books, all in an effort to identify this sunken U-boat and its crew. During that time, three of their colleagues died exploring the wreck, including a father and son team. In 1997, when it all seemed in vain, the two divers came up with a final plan, so dangerous that the book ends with this last dive.

Listen to an interview with Robert Kurson on C-SPAN Booknotes from July 11, 2004.

©2004 Robert Kurson; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

  • Alex Award Winner, 2005

"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fascinating look at the sometimes communal, sometimes bitterly competitive psychology of wreck-divers, weekend warriors in wet suits whose dangerous hobby is often an antidote to the frustrations of the workaday world." (Booklist)
"The story told in Robert Kurson's new book features undersea thrills, a gripping mystery, incredible discoveries, true-blue friendship, life-or-death crises and history unfolding....Written with great you-are-there intensity and dynamic verve." (The New York Times)
"From U-boat history to the mortal dangers of diving (disorientation is so common that you wonder only three men drowned on this quest), Kurson explains it all, even as he's spinning a fantastic yarn that happens to be true. All he leaves out are the boring parts." (Newsweek)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (2214 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rosemarie Schmidt 08-30-04
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
    Overall
    "Any diver will love it"

    This book will hold your attention from the opening paragraph to the final author interview. If you dive, you can well imagine yourself decending into the cold water of the north Atlantic. The characters come to life and the author does a good job of describing both the modern day wreck diver and the life of a U-boat sailor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Redmond, WA, USA 08-27-04
    Douglas Redmond, WA, USA 08-27-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The obsessive world of advanced wreck diving ..."

    [Ship]wreck diving is not for the faint of heart and this book expertly captures that frighting, fascinating world and those who are drawn to (obsessed by?) it.

    John Chatterton and his diving enemy-turned-partner, Richie Kohler, dive a sunken WWII German U-boat (dubbed the "U-Who" until they finally ID it) off the New Jersey coast. Through 3 dive crew deaths (!), two failed marriages, and numerous harrowing, narrow escapes they relentlessly go back to the mystery sub for several YEARS looking for evidence from which to identify the vessel. Soon they are caught up in the real world of historians, artifacts, documents and oral accounts to ultimately to prove the WWII records wrong and correctly identify the sub.

    Kohler, in particular, feels compelled to uncover the story of the German sailors who (all) died when the ship sank and his personalization of their WWII lives is moving. (As long as you don't think too much about the fact they were killing Americans.)

    As Chatterton and Kohler get closer and closer (over several years) to identifying the sub, the suspense builds. It climaxes on the last dive during which Chatterton (250 feet underwater) nearly dies twice. Gripping stuff.

    My only complaint: the author dwells a bit too long on the "mystical" or philosophical angle to this hunt. However, he did have a good quote from Chatterton: "Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity," a prescription Chatterton followed religiously in his pursuit of wreck diving excellence.

    ... but you'll never get me to voluntarily experience narcosis at 200 ft.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriel LAS VEGAS, NV, United States 07-27-04
    Gabriel LAS VEGAS, NV, United States 07-27-04 Member Since 2010

    Criminal defense Lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read mostly non-fiction.....history, science, military biography. My quirky side likes Zombie Books? Will also pick up a fiction bestseller once in a while. Favorite movie: Being There

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    "Fantastic!"

    I found myself taking special trips in my car to finish this book! The best book I have downloaded so far. From the technical detail of deep wreck diving to the history of U-Boats and their crews, this book is first rate. The best compliment I can give the book is that it will be required reading for both my teenage sons.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron New York, NY, United States 05-07-09
    Ron New York, NY, United States 05-07-09 Member Since 2011
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    "Not the most compelling adventure tale"

    Overly long in the dull parts, too short in the exciting parts. Repetitive. Why a writer can't trust a reader to remember the salient details in a characterization or narrative for more than a page or two is a mystery deeper than any sunken vessel.

    One suggestion: A site where Audible subscribers can go to see the images published in the print editions of the books we download. This would have been of tremendous help with this tome, I think.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rusty 12-26-05
    Rusty 12-26-05
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    "Not enough time in the water"

    This was a sluggish account of ordinary guys diving a wreck. I was excited by all the good reviews but really disappointed by the book. The key characters, manly men existing, in this book anyway, in a world devoid of women, drink and go on expensive pleasure wreck diving trips. The goal of this obsessive and dangerous hobby is to both explore and plunder sunken ships. We are supposed to be carried along on an exciting journey of transformation as these manly men discover a sunken submarine (though, the location was given to them by a fisherman), dive it, research it (the idea of going to the library and into the archives is presented as almost as exotic as the dive itself), read some history (and sadly, we are forced to sit through a "docu-drama" about the german crew of the submarine) and ultimately find that diving isn't just about grabbing all the plates you can from the wrecks. Its about, you know, people, and history. And, doing research is hard, and sources can be contradictory. Um, yeah. I felt like I was reading about college freshmen doing a research paper. Its a cool story, but would have been better as a 10-page Vanity Fair article. Stretching it out to a full-length book just didn't work.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sparhawk6 SLC, UT 04-08-11
    sparhawk6 SLC, UT 04-08-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Very fun, but hollow"

    I enjoyed the book. It is quite an adventure, and had me on the edge of my driver's seat and doing the cliche "waiting-in-the-garage" listening. Robert Kurson did a great job.

    The whole thing, however, has a hollowness and selfishness to it. These guys put themselves ahead of their families and all else for the sake of their hobby. I guess it's not that much different than those who climb Everest, but this deep wreck diving story just doesn't have the same feel as "Into Thin Air". I don't consider these fellows heroes in any sense of the word, even though they were in extremely dangerous situations.

    I enjoyed Prichard's reading.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas Finksburg, MD, USA 05-21-10
    Lucas Finksburg, MD, USA 05-21-10
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    "Simply fantastic!"

    Excellent. I enjoyed every minute of this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-16-10
    03-16-10 Member Since 2010
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    "History isn't as reliable as I thought!"

    This is a simply fabulous book whether you're into diving or not. A remarkable story, remarkable divers, well researched and well told - I often found myself holding my breath. Watching the video documentary added another dimension but I'm so glad I had read the book first. Thankyou Bill, John and Ritchie (et al) for your effort - and Robert for telling their story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina M. 09-14-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Riveting"

    My husband and I could not stop listening. We were listening in the car and started taking longer routes to listen to even more. Well told story!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Glasshouse MtnsAustralia 12-22-07
    David Glasshouse MtnsAustralia 12-22-07
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    3
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    "Fascinating"

    The story unfolds at just the right pace to bring this amazing true story to life.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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