Combining two of my interests, history and marine life, Kurson takes his readers on an adventure to discover the identity of one of the last World War II vintage ship wrecks. Engaging in multiple dives to offshore ship wrecks each summer, Nagle dove for the sheer pleasure of it and to unlock clues to the mysteries of the deep. Emerging as the leaders of the quest to obtain the identity of the Who-Boat were John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, Kurson's leading informants on this project. Between 1991 and 1997 either on dives or during research, the two divers stopped at nothing to find out the identity of the mystery U-boat. Whether it was in the form of meetings at restaurants, late night phone calls, or fact seeking missions to the United States Naval Archives in Washington, D.C., Chatterton and Kohler would not rest physically or emotionally until they knew for certain the identity of their mystery U-boat. Even though at times I grew frustrated especially as I came to know the dangers of deep sea diving, I remained with Chatterton and Kohler for the duration of their mission.
I need to know more!" I think that means Robert Kurson might be a brilliant writer.
Mr. Kurson was able to tell John Chatterton and Richie Kohler's stories so that it read just like that, a story. Not only the history of the sub and the men who lost their lives for their country, but the history of wreck-diving, Chatterton and Kohler's histories, and the history of Bill Nagle. Their trips all over the world, their passion for discovering the truth, their desire to correct history (and how sad is this - they found that written history is not infallible, that sometimes assumptions were changed and presented as truth in order to make an assessor feel better about his job), and Mr. Kohler's desire to let the families of the U-Boat men know the truth is something that I appreciated, applauded and agreed with.
Akin to "Shadow Divers," I know what it's like to have a deep-shrouded mystery gnawing at you, where the answer is out there, somewhere, but finding the answer is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But hey, the best things in life often require healthy doses of patience, tenacity, grace, and a whole lot of love. Through thick and thin, solace and strife, headaches and heartaches, they tested themselves as divers, historians, companions, and above all - as men, staying the course to solve the mystery of the German U-Boat sunk off the waters of New Jersey where no sub should have been. It took several years and dives, sifting through archives, traveling abroad, many thousands of dollars, and three deep water divers losing their lives before the u-boat could be identified with 99.9% certainty. However, aside from direct quotes, I'd much prefer reading profanity free text.
As I'm neither Boyle, nor Dalton nor Henry I won't be going into grave (as in watery grave) detail vis-à-vis the laws of physics that make humans so ill-equipped to brave the pelagic depths of the sea.* Things like nitrogen narcosis can impair even a master diver's decision-making skills, and those decisions can often be fatal. * If, like me, you find studying the various gas laws to be a fun leisure time activity, check out Andy Davis' The Physics of Diving page Bonus example of something you do not want to happen while diving:
There is a huge difference between knowing "what Mr. X did then and there" and understanding why that person made the choices he made. I never came to understand John Chatterton or Richie Kohler. One example: the book doesn't explain why custody of Kohler's children was switched between the parents. If we want to understand Kohler we need to know this. If you want to understand the person these are important points. The book presents the actions of the people, but I still never come to understand these men. I highly recommend this book if you want a thrill and are curious about marine warfare during WW2. So, if you want to be scared, the audiobook is a great choice.
I remember them perservering through it all to try to uncover the truth about something they had fallen in love with, in a way. I remember loving this book and not putting it down until I was finished.
*Diving for historys sake.* "In contemplating the Doria's tilted grandness, he could glimpse shadows of the secrets great shipwrecks offer those who see with their minds." This was my second Robert Kurson book after Rocket Men, and its clear hes working from the same blue print. of Allied sonar a prelude to imminent explosion." "Life is a matter of luck, and the odds in favor of success are in no way enhanced by extreme caution." WWII German U-Boat Commander Eric Topp
2 amateur shadow divers moved beyond reason, spent 6 years of their lives in study, research, planning, travel, and dangerous deep sea diving (risking death countless times, three men did in fact die while diving the wreck) to uncover the identity of a lost WW2 submarine discovered in 1991 on the floor of the Atlantic just off the coast of New Jersey. John Chatterton is likely now the worlds finest deep sea diver.
John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, the two heroes of the story (you know them from the series Deep Sea Detectives), transform what started as an artifact-hunting expedition into a life-consuming obsession that busted both their marriages, nearly killed them, actually killed three of their fellow divers, caused fights and broken friendships, and cost them a great deal of money before they finally succeeded. They were Kursons business partners in writing the book, and while Shadow Divers isnt exactly hagiography, its not unexpected that the two men come off perhaps better than they would have in more independent hands. Strangely enough, the chapters that ought to be the most interesting (those reconstructing the sub crews last months) are instead flatly journalistic, reading like a newspaper feature rather than the high drama Kurson manages to wring out of the diving sequences. Non-divers will thank Kurson for avoiding much of the gear porn that often clutters the stories of men taking part in highly technical pursuits. Im a diver advanced open water, EAN, rescue and I enjoy wrecks, so this ought to have been a perfect read for me.
He moved from the Sun-Times to Chicago magazine, then to Esquire, where he won a National Magazine Award and was a contributing editor for years.