Book Review - Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
I have just finished one of the most riveting nonfiction books I've read in a long time... Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. This is a true life diving adventure that is totally engrossing.
Back in 1991, the owner of a dive boat charter was given the coordinates to a fishing spot 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. It was thought that there was some shipwreck down there, and he was going to try and figure out what vessel had gone down. Over the next six years, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler became obsessed with discovering the identity of this wreck, which was a World War II U-boat. The mystery was that no recorded history showed that a U-boat was sunk in that area. It took six years of diving, worldwide research, rewriting recorded naval history, and the death of three divers to finally identify the vessel and figure out why it wasn't off the coast of Gibraltar where it was listed as sunk.
If you've ever read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, the book about the climbers who died on Mt. Everett, you'll see a strong resemblance to that style. You learn about the personalities of the men who are driven to risk their life every time they dive on a wreck. And this isn't recreational diving, either. They go down 200+ feet, where you have approximately 25 minutes of time on the bottom before ascending and decompressing over the next 90 - 120 minutes. One wrong move and you are literally a dead man. As the story progresses, you start to understand the need to identify the ship so as to give the crew who died a final voice, a need to find the answers yet not to disturb the final resting place of the many who died when the ship sank.
An absolutely incredible story that is well-written. A must read.