book: Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

Full title: Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II

This is a re-read for me, but it’s one I remain fascinated by. The book is about the discovery of a lost U-boat from World War II. However, rather than starting as historical research, it’s very experiential: divers find a sub, and then try to figure out what it’s doing there.

The book is narrative non-fiction. In the style of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (about a season on Mount Everest) it focuses primarily on a few specific people, but also talks about contributions and interactions with others. (And, like that book, it also spends a lot of time on the lethal physical challenges involved: three people died in the course of the initial discovery dives.)

What’s fascinating, though, is the shift during the book. The beginning focuses on the physical challenges of diving in a confined space and at great depth, but second half of the book focuses increasingly on the stories of those on the U-Boat when it sank (beginning with the identification of the U-Boat, and continuing to details about the crew and their families.)

All in all, a fascinating read, and one that left me wanting to know more about a number of other subjects.

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