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

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
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's review
Dec 19, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: libraryread
Read in January, 2005

I heard parts of this story on Radio Reader back in November and after seeing a recommendation from Bubba Lou Stanwick on the UB, I checked it out from the library and (excuse the pun) dove right in.

Kurson spins a compelling tale based around a handful of deep water wreck divers who discover and ultimately identify a WWII German submarine off the New England coast. The story starts with Bill Nagle, a diver and boat captain who used to be one of the best divers off the East coast, but is slowly drinking himself to death. A little later in the story, we are introduced to John Chatterton and Ritchie Kohler - two divers from different circles who become obsessed with identifying the wreck they come to call the U-Who. These men, along with others along the way, spend the better part of the 1990's unraveling this mystery.

Kurson provides biographical information on each of these men, as well as some background on this sport. In clear, direct language, he tells us just how dangerous deep diving in this part of the Atlantic really is. There are literally dozens of ways that something can go wrong during a dive, and many men who have died because of them. In fact, this wreck claims three lives, and nearly takes a couple more. In adddition to scouring the U-who for clues to its identity, Kohler and Patterson delve into multiple archives to try to solve the mystery from the other end; the genealogist in me appreciated the work they put into digging thru old records and contacting everyone they could think of who might have information. Their obsession does take a toll on their family lives, and Kurson doesn't pull any punches in that aspect, either.

The dives on the wreck are described in considerable detail; it's hard to believe Kurson wasn't there himself. Near the end of the book, he also recreates the history of the crew and their last voyage with equal clarity and vision. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was reading a fiction thriller ... and I mean that as a compliment. Kurson cites (and thanks) his sources in detail and provides an index for reference purposes.

Recommended to anyone with an interest in diving, WWII history or just a well-told tale of determination and courage.

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