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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Douglas
  • mission viejo, CA, USA
  • 07-03-04


IPOD plus headphones at 3 AM....I couldn't stop listening to this superb story of adventure, history, courage, tenacity....The author superbly weaves several tales together to create such a beautiful fabric of a story. This is one of the best, if not the best, of my many audible experiences. Please only get the unabridged version: I wouldn't miss a drop of this story.

66 of 68 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mike
  • Evanston, IL, USA
  • 07-07-04

True Adventure Under the High Seas

A fascinating view into the world of what has to be the most extreme of extreme sports, deep wreck diving. Kurson conveys a treasure chest of historical and technical information, all wrapped in a gripping high-tension narrative. What is most fantastic is the fact that it?s true-every word.

The story invites comparison to works such as ?The Perfect Storm? and ?Touching the Void?; but it transcends those works and others of the genre by allowing the story to stand on its own. Knudson conveys what drives these men through the sheer power of description and story. He doesn?t interject himself or attempt to process the information for us. His meticulous research and winning prose style render that unnecessary.
Listeners will be treated to an education in wreck diving as well as a slice of history. The fear and excitement is palpable in every dive. This is a one of a kind story.

33 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Wendy
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 09-01-04

An Excellent Read!

As a listener to fiction, (and mostly mystery) I hesitated to download Shadow Divers. However, I had heard an interview with the author on NPR and the book seemed so compelling, I had to go for it. I wasn't disappointed! The book is filled with mystery and adventure and the interview with the two main divers at the end was unexpected and fantastic.

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • JOHN
  • Plantation, FL, United States
  • 01-09-05

As exciting as the best fiction adventure novel.

I was surprised that this book does actually live up to the praise of the listeners? reviews. Besides being a fascinating treatise on the ultra-dangerous sport of deep wreck diving, this true story reads like fiction. Extremely well researched and organized, Kurson introduces and describes each real-life person so that the reader/listener knows and identifies with him personally, each sharing a strong connection to either the love of wreck diving, or the mystery of the phantom U-boat.

The book is rich with detail that aptly serves to explain the myriad complexities and inherent dangers of deep water diving. For the first time in my life, I finally understand the physiology of ?decompression? and why it is vitally mandatory for any diver to complete before surfacing. The descriptions of that diving affliction known as ?the bends? makes one appreciate just one of the myriad ways a person can perish exploring the deep.

The human side of each character is developed, so that one can understand that the participants are all just everyday real people, complete with all of the foibles and frailties that each of us possess. This added to fullness of the story and helped bring it to life for me.

Very engaging and highly recommended for lovers of fiction, non-fiction, history, adventure or mystery.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Melodie
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 10-18-04


I am not usually a non-fiction reader, but picked this up last month based on reviews. I cannot say enough great things about it. It was well written, well narrated, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole listen. I highly recommend this book. I found myself hurrying home in the evenings to listen to the next chapter! I hated for it to come to an end. Listen to this book!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wow! Enter a world most will never experience

I am not a diver and not necessarily a World War II buff, but I loved this book. The compelling human way in which this mystery is presented is truly a feast for those of us addicted to character development, the unfamiliar, and suspense. This story takes the listener to another time when the world was at war and another place at the bottom of the ocean where life and death are one. Along the way, it teaches us a little bit about who we are.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • The Colony, TX, USA
  • 12-01-04

Unbelievably Riveting

I couldn't stop listening to this book. I stayed up late listening until I was a zombie at work. The narrator is perfect for the material & the material is facinating & emotionally gripping. There is a section after the epilogue where the author details his sources. Be sure to listen after that for an interview with Chatterton and Kohler conducted by the author after the print version of the book was published.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Story- No Scuba Diving Required!

This incredible true adventure is one of my favorite Audible listens.

The diving scenes are tense, and I found myself holding my breath each time they dove to 230 feet to explore the boat. Searching the boat must be done with extreme care due to the depth, but also the danger of getting trapped inside where there is debri that could fall at the wrong touch. Added to the danger, they take care not to disturb the remains of the men who perished on the boat.

However, most of the story is above water, about two dedicated men who will not give up until they find out the mystery of the boat found off the coast of New Jersey. This takes them almost 7 years to wade through the red tape and brick walls that seem to interfere at every turn.

John Chatterton and Richie Kohler become almost obsessed with their quest to find out the name of the WW II U-Boat. It takes over their lives so completely that they both eventually lose their marriages.

Amazingly only three men in Chatterton's dive group lost their lives while attempting to get identification off the boat. In such deep waters, they could only stay down about 30 minutes per dive, or risk getting Narc'd -resulting in extreme confusion and bad decisions which could cause a rise too quickly to the surface. This is where the term "the bends" comes from- and is so painful that one of the men begs to be shot rather than endure it.

I really like the narrator as well. His voice didn't distract from the story, which almost is told like a documentary. Worth the credit.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ryan
  • Logan, Utah
  • 02-11-13

An amazing story of Perseverance and Determination

Any additional comments?

Although "Shadow Divers" isn't a story of survival, I couldn't help but feel that it was as I listened. Not only is the story itself fascinating, this book is an amazing example of undeterred perseverance and determination. These two divers single handedly changed the history books, and in effect, brought peace to the U-boat crew's families.

The author does a great job of intertwining history to give the story a greater perspective. If you love adventure, history, and drama in one - you'll love this book.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Randy
  • Ramona, CA, USA
  • 04-16-09

Absolutely a great book

If you like nautical history this is a great book for you. I am not a diver and was pleased to get such a great education on diving from this book as well as a lesson on the history surounding the events. 6 stars would be more appropriate. Other that I personally know that listened to or read this book share my opinion of "amazing".

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • William
  • 09-06-09

One of the best audio books I've ever listened to

This is probably the best book I've ever listened to on audible, the narration is fantastic and the book is totally gripping, I couldn't put it down. The book is much more that the summary says. The interview with the divers and the author at the end of the book is a fantastic addition.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • M A Kirkland
  • 03-31-10


This title provides a fascinating insight into the world of deep wreck diving. It describes the dangers they encountered particularly in the early years when they breathed oxygen and narcosis was a constant and dangerous presence on their dives. Also the dedication of the divers as they risked their lives time and time again to find another piece of the puzzle.

I've never dived and never really considered just how dangerous diving can be but this story makes you appreciate the bravery, sometimes the foolhardiness but always the dedication to their sport of the early pioneers of deep wreck diving.

Truly rivetting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matti
  • 01-15-10

Absolute masterpiece

Being a diver myself, this book was an absolute masterpiece. I Can't wait for the film.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 12-23-12

A unique and dangerous discovery.

This is a great listen, another one of those I struggled to switch off when I should have been sleeping, working or being sociable! This story ticks lots of boxes for me; history, exploration, mystery, suspense, drama, human tragedy and endeavour and it's all true! One note of caution: If you suffer from claustrophobia as I do, you might have a few troubled nights of sleep.

  • Overall
  • Karen
  • 11-10-11

non-diving girlie

I am a girlie girl who is terrified of the sea and I loved this book, it took a while for me to get into it and I had to speed up the narrator to cope with the accent but it didn't matter because the story is so good. I got mixed up with the names of the characters too, but again it didn't matter. A great big thumbs up and highly recommend to listen, I'm gutted it's finished!

  • Overall
  • Barry
  • 06-12-11

Shadow Divers

This is my first ever review here, ive bought many books here and not bothered to leave a review past the 5 star system, but with this book I felt the need to break my silence!
Here is something else for you to mull over before we continue, I haven't actually even finished the book, Im still 3/4 of the way through it!

This book is dangerous!
Because of this book I have arrived into work late, spent longer on my lunch break that i should and the general quality of my work has dropped due to a lack of sleep the night before.
I cannot put this book down (turn it off).

This is a amazing adventure, made more so by the fact that its real.
At first I was not too fussed on the narrator if im honest but that sticking point seemed to vanish shortly after the first one or two chapters, although it does grate when he says "sub-marine-rs" instead of "sub-marin-rs" but thats a personal grip (dont get me started on Xpecially and Nitch).

The story is fast paced, well written and leaves you wanting more at the end of each chapter, "just 10 more minutes and I promise i'll switch it off and go to sleep"

Listen, im rubbish at reviews, so i'll end this one with this. Ive bought about 15 books here to date, ive not felt the need to review any of them, I did with this, and ive not even finished it yet!,
Read this book, you will love it, if you dont blame me.