• Shadow Divers

  • The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
  • By: Robert Kurson
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 6 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (400 ratings)

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Shadow Divers

By: Robert Kurson
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
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Publisher's Summary

For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death 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 they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey: 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 accumulated sediment.

No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts that Chatterton and Kohler brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to 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. Chatterton and Kohler, at first bitter rivals, would be drawn into a friendship that deepened to an almost mystical bond of brotherhood. 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.

Author Robert Kurson's account of this quest is at once thrilling and emotionally complex. The story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, 230 feet down, in the deep blue sea.

Listen to an interview with Robert Kurson on C-SPAN Booknotes from July 11, 2004.
©2004 Robert Kurson (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

  • Alex Award Winner, 2005

"While Kurson doesn't stint on technical detail, lovers of any sort of adventure tale will certainly absorb the author's excellent characterizations, and particularly his balance in describing the combat arm of the Third Reich. Felicitous cooperation between author and subject rings through every page of this rare insightful action narrative." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fascinating look at the sometimes communal, sometimes bitterly competitive psychology of wreck-divers, weekend warriors in wet suits whose dangerous hobby is often an antidote to the frustrations of the workaday world." (Booklist)
"The story told in Robert Kurson's new book features undersea thrills, a gripping mystery, incredible discoveries, true-blue friendship, life-or-death crises and history unfolding....Written with great you-are-there intensity and dynamic verve." (The New York Times)
"From U-boat history to the mortal dangers of diving (disorientation is so common that you wonder only three men drowned on this quest), 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." (Newsweek)

What listeners say about Shadow Divers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Who Knew This Book Would Interest Me At All?

I only downloaded this book because it got such amazing ratings. I am not interested in scuba diving, in boats, in submarines or in WWII, but I was intrigued by the ratings. Boy, am I glad I didn't miss this one! What an incredible story, and it is non-fiction to boot! The story is fascinating, the men on the diving mission are fearless beyond belief and the history they uncover is staggering. I only listened to the abridged version because the unabridged was 2 credits and I was not sure this book was going to be my cup of tea.

Robert Kurson does an outstanding job of relaying the story of the divers, their triumphs, their losses and their impossible journey of discovery.

I have continued to do some of my own research on this WWII U-boat and it's crew thanks to the website of Richard Kohler Jr. who along with his diving mate John Chatterton, whose drive for the answers almost cost him his life, were able to bring this bit of history back to life. Congratulations!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Couldn?t turn it off !!!

Although I?ve listed to enjoyed dozens of audio books, this is the first book that has inspired me to take the time to write a review. My wife and I have been listening to audio books for years now and Shadow Divers is without doubt the best audio book we?ve ever listened to. It's simply a GREAT STORY (and extremely well narrated by the way) that keeps you interested from start to finish. You don?t have to be young or old, male or female, or a diver to find the story interesting. I strongly advise that you purchase the unabridged version so you don?t miss a thing. I found myself listening way after my normal bed time because I got so engrossed in the story. Shadow Divers may cause you to loose some sleep but I think you'll find it worth it.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Get the Unabridged Version!!!! Not this!!!

This is the abridged version. Dont waste your time with it. Get the UNABRIDGED! It is available on Audible with same great narrator!!

This is an Amazing Story that doesn't translate to abridged format. I listened to this and couldn't understand what the fuss was about. I was not drawn in to the story at all and stopped a little more than halfway through.

But I heard another adventure/survival author refer to Shadow Divers as one of the greatest adventure stories. So I purchased the unabridged yesterday. Except for sleep, I haven't stopped listening since I started it. (Kept me up until 4am.)

Even having listened to most of this version, I felt I had never heard the story before. Crucial elements are left out, involving the motivations and backgrounds of the divers, dangers of such diving, and the chemistry of the main team. It's these personal details that set the stage and move this narrative. I ended up just as interested in identifying the wreck as they were.

Whereas, in this version I could not understand why an American cared about an enemy WWII sub. These are horrible nazis. Who cares about their wreckage, except to be thankful that they did not succeed?! The unabridged version broadens that simple-minded perspective!!! (Some of the personal details and stories of the main divers are so fascinating that I would read a book about them alone...)

Unabridged has the same narrator, and he's great.
This version just doesn't do the story justice!!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful book!

I usally approach non-fiction books as an informational read, a learning experience no matter how boring. On this I was intrigued by some of the rave reviews so I took a chance.

It turned out to be a exciting, can't put down book. It was a learning experience about the exciting and different and dangerous word of deep sea wreck divers that I was unaware of. If that sounds like "who cares!" I guarantee you will find it most intriging. Their adventure in finding the boat and indentifying it was like a mystery.

For you WWII buffs it brought you through the experience of what it was like to go on a UBoat mission in the waning days of WWI when they knew there was an 80% chance of never returning and how that involved their families.

This was so unusual, it evolved into a program shown on NOVA and is in the process of becoming a movie. I sent for the DVD on PBS.org and am waiting for the movie.

The story just rolls along and one I hated to see end. Itis read by Michael Pritchard, my favorite reader from my Books on Tape Days

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping to the very end

An excellent and engaging tale of true resolve, bravery and dedication. The main characters lead in a little know field and push the limits in every way taking risks that are hard to believe. This book is worth every minute.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

shadow divers

great book. It is amazing to think it all really happened. A very interesting look into diving and U-boats.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thrilling story intertwined with history lesson

Robert Kurson has found and told an incredible story that anyone who likes non-fiction will enjoy.
He gives a great background into diving, German U-boats, WWII and more.

I love books that get me excited to research the subject which I found myself doing a lot during and following listening to this memorable book.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting Story

From the beginning to the last word, the story held me captive. I grew up in WW II and recalled the news of lost ships in the Atlantic. I remember seeing cargo boxes, C ration cans and military gear washed up on the shore just near Annapoli, Md. This was around 1943, when I was 7 years old. I recall pictures of sleek submarines and news clippings that showed the the war and devastation. I can still hear the comments made as my family talked about the war. It was before TV, but news papers provided pictures of places I had never heard of and events that are still remembered.
In this book, the divers find a sub. Over a period of years they conduct research on both sides of the Atlantic. This dedicated research coupled with daring dives on the wreck, reveals the identity as U 869, a German sub.
The discovery by John Chatterton and Richie Kohler off the coast of New Jersey reignited my memory of those early years of the war. The book is well written and it held my attention nearly all day. What a good read.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story!

A must read for any scuba diver or anyone interested in navy, submarine or military history.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Does not disappoint

Captured the huge risks and challenges of wreck diving. Great story surrounding U569 and it’s crew.

1 person found this helpful

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  • michael cunnane.
  • 10-16-18

Compulsive listening

What an amazing story.Triumph over tragedy where the triumphs were such a high point but yet the tragedies such a low point.Superbly written and the narration by Campbell Scott was the icing on the cake.I never had any interest in deep sea diving but this audio book is so good I will actually seek it out as a hard back or soft back.