Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
by Robert Kurson. Alfred E. Knopf 2004
Reviewed by Dick McGowan
Shadow Divers may be the perfect book for
history buffs. The book recounts the discovery of a German
submarine sunk off the coast of New Jersey.
But the boat appears in no military record and its identity is
unknown. John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, weekend scuba divers,
explore the wreck in 230 feet of water, attempting to find the
artifact that would garner an identity for U-Who. Shadow Divers is
worth reading if for no other reason than to understand deepwater
diving-and its dangers.
Yet Kurson knows what good fiction writers know: character
drives the plot, even a plot, or story, as wildly improbable as the
book chronicles. Characterization is woven into historiography and
explanations of diving equipment. The reader meets old u-boat
captains, survivors of people lost at sea, military personnel with
secrets to protect, recreational divers whose idea of relaxation
involves diving 200 feet and exploring a wreck.
At the heart of the story, though, are the young German soldiers
who perished underwater. Who are they? What were they doing? Why is
there no record of the boat's demise? Who will speak for the lost
souls aboard the ill-fated sub? Chatterton and Kohler both believe
that the dignity of deepwater diving and the dignity of the
U-boat's crew need preserving-and that means determining the
identity of the boat.
Kurson has done a good deed by speaking for the crew. At the
same time, he has done a very good deed for Shadow Divers'
- Dick McGowan is a lecturer in Philosophy