An unexpected pleasure

A review of Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

I cannot tell a lie.  I blanched a bit when my copy of Shadow Divers, the March book for the Meadowridge Book Group, arrived.  It seemed menacingly thick and blue, blue, blue, and all about diving (or so I thought).  It lay, unopened, on my work shelf for several weeks.  The day of the discussion drew nearer, though, so finally I held my breath and took the plunge.  And, wow!  I got sucked in right away.  Robert Kurson vividly brought to life the rough-and-tumble characters of deep sea diving.

John Chatterton and Richie Kohler were deep sea wreck diving rivals: Chatterton was methodical and meticulous, and Kohler was a member of the rowdy and irreverent Atlantic Wreck Divers gang (yes, a gang, complete with leather jackets!).  Chatterton was the first man to dive what appeared to be a World War II era German U-boat (dubbed the "U-Who), and when Kohler got involved in subsequent expeditions tensions between the two men ran high.

What on earth was a German sub doing off the coast of New Jersey when all historical records deemed it impossible?  Which sub was it?  How was it sunk without the knowledge of American forces?  Kurson beautifully weaves the historical mystery and the saga of Chatterton and Kohler's growing friendship in this riveting book about how they teamed up to defy the history books and unravel the identity of the "U-Who."


It was really pretty awesome, wasn't it?

Have you ever seen that other big, thick historical and adventure book Ship of Gold""? That was another one I expected to dislike (it was an ALA Notable book

Most group members had the same experience we did. One member lost interest during the research phase (not all hearts race at the thought of archives, it seems) but enjoyed the rest. And it's one of a handful of books I've recommended to both my parents that they've enjoyed equally.

I had the same exact reaction - had to read it for a book group, wished I didn't have to read it, and then was fascinated when I finally picked it up.

What did the rest of your group think of it Robin?

We read this a few months ago for MSB book club and I had the same fear and same happy surprise. A very engrossing book!

Glad to hear so many similar responses!

I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but c'mon, this one has a TERRIBLE cover. I think this is the root of the problem...