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 men like John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. It was an addiction. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory narcosis, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against their own deaths 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 lay two hundred and thirty feet below the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a 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 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, bitter rivals, would be drawn into a friendship that deepened to an almost mystical sense of brotherhood 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. Each was hunting the hidden core of himself, a defining moment.

Author Robert Kurson’s account of this quest is at once thrilling and emotionally complex, and written with a vivid sense of what divers actually experience in the throes of danger. The story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, 230 feet down, in the deep blue sea.

Click here to see an artist's rendition of the sunken sub.

 


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