Once in a while I jump off my usual track of reading history and biography. It could be a novel, a memoir, even science fiction. Or underdogs. Laura Hillenbrand’s wonderful Seabiscuit and Unbroken come to mind. Last week it was scuba diving of which I knew absolutely nothing about….
In 1991, a group of divers, including Richie Kohler and John Chatterton, set out to explore an unknown object lying 230 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and discover an apparent historical impossibility: a World War II German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey. Consulting both the United States Navy and the German Navy both lead to complete denials of the possibility of a World War II-era U-boat wreck in that area. Historical records claim the closest U-boat wreck to be hundreds of miles away.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson chronicles the seven year quest to learn the identity of the mysterious wreck, dubbed "U-Who" by the dive team, the identities of the men aboard her, and how she came to rest on the ocean floor near New Jersey.
Shadow Divers is a quest story, and, as those often are, a story of obsession. The techniques for deep sea diving were new and catch as catch can. For lots of reasons it was very very dangerous.
John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, the two heroes of the story 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. In spite of the authors best efforts to explain what would drive these men to do what they did it all still comes off as a mystery. Perhaps obsessions are mysteries like that. In the end, common sense and rationality have nothing to do with it. It was an interesting if ultimately unsatisfying exploration of the human mind.
Shadow Divers is, however, real-life action/adventure, a portrait of near-insanity, and an exploration of what our inner demons can drive us to. If you enjoy or appreciate ships, history, or discovery stories, or can’t get enough Krakauer you should consider this book. For myself, I don’t believe I’ll be trying deep wreck scuba diving anytime soon…..
Thx, I might give this a read.ReplyDelete
Sounds like a fascinating book, but I'm with you on scuba diving: too risky! Did you see the movie The Big Blue? It's a fictionalized account of competitive deep sea (without 02) divers, and oddly enough, one of my favorite movies. My husband loved it too. It does show how enticing and dangerous the deep can be. Fabulous cinematography too.ReplyDelete
I don't do that well above water, much less under it. The thought terrifies me!ReplyDelete
As a marine biologist wannabe and former scuba diver, this sound right up my alley. I never dove for treasure or deep sea but the sea and her secrets fascinate me. Thanks, I will look for it.ReplyDelete
Just put it on hold at the library. I should have it in a week. Thanks for doing this, TB. I love new and interesting books :-)ReplyDelete
Another interesting book. How do you find them, TB? I used to wish I could swim well enough to go deep sea diving.ReplyDelete
Sounds , I passed the title along to a few friendsReplyDelete
I will pass I can barely watch the deep sea divers on TV:)ReplyDelete
That is interesting.ReplyDelete
I wonder if obsession represents some kind of certainty, or an alternative to the dread of letting go.