John Chatterton explores the mystery U-boat sunk off the New Jersey coast
“Exquisitely researched and superbly told.”
— People Magazine
Shadow Divers is a riveting true 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 hallucination, navigating through a minefield of perilous wreckage, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death often in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
But in 1991, not even these bold divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the New Jersey coast: 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 sediment.
Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked on a quest to solve the mystery. Some 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 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.
Shadow Divers spent 24 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, peaking at #2. The book was awarded the American Booksellers Association’s 2005 “Book of the Year Award,” and has been translated into 22 languages.
“A pulse-quickening real-life thriller … written with great you-are-there intensity and dynamic verve.”
— New York Times
“A masterful work … Remarkable … Captivating. Shadow Divers will in all likelihood join the company of such compelling and successful narratives of men doing deadly battle with nature as Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm.”
— Washington Post
“Kurson’s adrenalized prose sweeps you along.”
— The New Yorker
“Absorbing … Even a great story needs the right storyteller, and Chatterton and Kohler couldn’t have asked for anyone better than Kurson. From U-boat history to the mortal dangers of diving … 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.”
“An irresistible sea yarn.”
“Riveting … People who risk their lives and family bonds to pursue their passions can create some of the best non-fiction. Perhaps the most startling elements of Shadow Divers are anecdotes about the dangers of diving. [And] the final part of the book is perhaps the most moving.”
— USA Today
“Kurson breathes life into Shadow Divers with consummate skill. His research is meticulous but he wears it lightly, his characters are skillfully drawn, and the narrative is so well paced and constructed that it develops a hypnotic, almost suffocating tension … But it is far more than mere adventure; this is also a haunting, painful story of obsession and its attendant costs. For once, the comparisons with The Perfect Storm are not out of place; this is a memorable story, beautifully told.”
— The Sunday Times of London
“Shadow Divers is not only a gripping adventure story, but a tale of dogged persistence and growing friendship. Mr. Kurson vividly captures the hazardous world of diving and the competition and camaraderie of the divers themselves.”
— Wall Street Journal