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Shadow Divers
Cover of Shadow Divers
Shadow Divers
The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
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In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat–complete with its crew of 60 men–not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers,...
In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat–complete with its crew of 60 men–not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers,...
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  • In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat–complete with its crew of 60 men–not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers, realizing the momentousness of their discovery, began probing the mystery. Over the next six years, they became expert and well-traveled researchers, taught themselves German, hunted for clues in Germany, and constructed theories corrective of the history books, all in an effort to identify this sunken U-boat and its crew. During that time, three of their colleagues died exploring the wreck, including a father and son team. In 1997, when it all seemed in vain, the two divers came up with a final plan, so dangerous that the book ends with this last dive.
 

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  • From the book

    CHAPTER ONE

    THE BOOK OF NUMBERS

    Brielle, New Jersey, September 1991

    Bill Nagle's life changed the day a fisherman sat beside him in a ramshackle bar and told him about a mystery he had found lying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Against his better judgment, that fisherman promised to tell Nagle how to find it. The men agreed to meet the next day on the rickety wooden pier that led to Nagle's boat, the Seeker, a vessel Nagle had built to chase possibility. But when the appointed time came, the fisherman was not there. Nagle paced back and forth, careful not to plunge through the pier where its wooden planks had rotted away. He had lived much of his life on the Atlantic, and he knew when worlds were about to shift. Usually, that happened before a storm or when a man's boat broke. Today, however, he knew it was going to happen when the fisherman handed him a scrap of paper, a hand-scrawled set of numbers that would lead to the sunken mystery. Nagle looked into the distance for the fisherman. He saw no one. The salt air blew against the small seashore town of Brielle, tilting the dockside boats and spraying the Atlantic into Nagle's eyes. When the mist died down he looked again. This time, he saw the fisherman approaching, a small square of paper crumpled in his hands. The fisherman looked worried. Like Nagle, he had lived on the ocean, and he also knew when a man's life was about to change.

    In the whispers of approaching autumn, Brielle's rouge is blown away and what remains is the real Brielle, the locals' Brielle. This small seashore town on the central New Jersey coast is the place where the boat captains and fishermen live, where convenience store owners stay open to serve neighbors, where fifth graders can repair scallop dredges. This is where the hangers-on and wannabes and also-rans and once-greats keep believing in the sea. In Brielle, when the customers leave, the town's lines show, and they are the kind grooved by the thin difference between making a living on the water and washing out.

    The Seeker towers above the other boats tied to this Brielle dock, and it's not just the vessel's sixty-five-foot length that grabs one's attention, it's the feeling-from her battered wooden hull and nicked propellers-that she's been places. Conceived in Nagle's imagination, the Seeker was built for a single purpose: to take scuba divers to the most dangerous shipwrecks in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Nagle was forty years old then, a thin, deeply tanned former Snap-On Tools Salesman of the Year. To see him here, waiting for this fisherman in his tattered T-shirt and thrift-shop sandals, the Jim Beam he kept as best friend slurring his motions, no one would guess that he had been an artist, that in his day Nagle had been great.

    In his twenties, Nagle was already legend in shipwreck diving, a boy wonder in a sport that regularly kills its young. In those days, deep-wreck diving was still the province of the adventurer. Countless shipwrecks, even famous ones, lay undiscovered at the bottom of the Atlantic, and the hunt for those wrecks-with their bent metal and arrested history-was the motion that primed Nagle's imagination.

    Treasure never figured into the equation for Atlantic shipwreck divers in the Northeast. Spanish galleons overflowing with gold doubloons and silver pieces of eight did not sink in this part of the ocean, and even if they had, Nagle wouldn't have been interested. His neighborhood was the New York and New Jersey shipping lanes, waters that conducted freighters, ocean liners, passenger vessels, and warships about the business and survival of America. These wrecks occasionally surrendered a rare piece of china or...

About the Author-

  • Robert Kurson is the author of the runaway bestseller Shadow Divers, Crashing Through, and Pirate Hunters.

    Michael Prichard has played several thousand characters during his career. While he has been seen performing over a hundred of them in theater and film, SmartMoney magazine named him one of the Top Ten Golden Voices.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Michael Prichard's voice mesmerizes as he conveys the complicated techniques of deep-wreck diving, the grave dangers that confront those who dive, and the toll it takes on their personal lives. This riveting account describes the perseverance of two divers, Kohler and Chatterton, as they struggle to correctly identify a WWII German submarine lying on the ocean floor off the New Jersey coast. As their personal relationship deepens, their search for artifacts yields to determination to identify the submerged vessel and to notify the crew's families in Germany. A bonus to be found on the audio version is Kurson's informative interview with the two divers. L.C. (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 29, 2004
    This superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. As Kurson, a writer for Esquire
    , narrates in this debut, the two divers next undertook a seven-year search for the U-boat's identity inside the wreck, in a multitude of archives and in a host of human memories. Along the way, Chatterton's diving cost him a marriage, and Kohler's love for his German heritage helped turn him into a serious U-boat scholar. The two lost three of their diving companions on the wreck and their mentor, Bill Nagle, to alcoholism. (Chowdhury's The Last Dive
    , from HarperPerennial in 2002, covers two of the divers' deaths.) The successful completion of their quest fills in a gap in WWII history—the fate of the Type IX U-boat U-869. Chatterton and Kohler's success satisfied them and a diminishing handful of U-boat survivors. 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. If the publishers are dreaming of another Perfect Storm
    , they may get their wish. Agent, Heather Schroder
    .7-city author tour; first serial to
    Esquire; rights sold in Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K.

  • CLIVE CUSSLER
    "An engrossing saga of the suspenseful, intriguing, and dangerous underwater investigation of a Mystery U-boat."
  • SCOTT TUROW, author of Reversible Errors "Robert Kurson's Shadow Divers, about the divers exploring a sunken shipwreck off the New Jersey coast, is a gripping account of real-life adventurers and a real-life mystery. In addition to being compellingly readable on every page, the book offers a unique window on the deep, almost reckless nature of the human quest to know."
  • JOHN MCCAIN, author of Faith of My Fathers and Why Courage Matters "A tremendously suspenseful story of discovery that comes as close as any book could to providing the reader with approximate sensations of deep sea diving and of life on a submarine at war, and that leaves us with a hell of an impression of the grit, guts, and compassion of a U-boat crew and the two American divers who risked everything to solve the mystery of their last mission."
  • JAMES MCMANUS, author of Positively Fifth Street "Robert Kurson's status as an undiscovered pleasure among Chicago readers is about to change, I suspect, in a hurry. Shadow Divers is so culturally astute and terrifyingly suspenseful that it should reach the sort of audience John Berendt, Susan Orlean, Jon Krakauer and Laura Hillenbrand have recently earned. Kurson's new focus is the larger historical world--a world of U-Boats, forensics and lung-crushing pressure--and his prose is, as always, plain gorgeous."
  • HAMPTON SIDES, author of Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission "A winning tale exceedingly well told, Shadow Divers takes us on a dangerous and seemingly quixotic descent into the murk--and then, in a fog of nitrogen narcosis, brings us back to the surface with a richer, fuller fathoming of a history we only thought we knew."

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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Shadow Divers
Shadow Divers
The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Robert Kurson
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The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Robert Kurson
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