Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson

(New York: Random House, 2004), 348

Ch 4

  • John Chatterton’s Vietnam medic mentor: “How will I want to feel about this decision when I’m an old man? That’s the question for making important decisions.”
  • Chatterton's principles from Vietnam (from Dad 2021-08-14):
    • if easy, someone else already would have done it; if you follow in another's footsteps you miss the problems really worth solving
    • excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity: compromise on any of these and you become average
    • every so often life presents a great moment of decision: you live with these decisions forever
    • examine everything, not all is as it seems or as people tell you
    • the guy who doesn't care, who says "I'm already dead and all that matters is the accounting I give of myself" is the most formidable force in the world
    • the worst possible decision is to give up

Ch 6

  • “he did things teenagers could not, all because his father believed he could and made certain he could”
  • “as he gulped more history he noticed that he thought differently about things than his peers did”
  • “he believed in making his three children feel comfortable around mechanical equipment, to make them unafraid to touch things”

Ch 9

  • 5 principles for not searching human remains

Ch 10

  • last line on knowing yourself: “what will it mean if life tests me and I do not try to strike a blow”

Ch 11

  • Kohler and Chatterton both ultimately dedicated to the “life test” of the U-boat, but to the detriment of their marriages and children

Ch 12

  • officer’s loyalty to Prussia rather than Nazi

Ch 13

  • Kohler gave up diving for his family (290)
  • Chatterton quote on 295: “when things are easy...”

Ch 15

  • Chatterton’s calm when trapped by a beam, and having only 1 min of spare air 316-317
  • before striking an oxygen tank: “When things are easy a person doesn’t really learn about himself” (321)
  • Chatterton had come down to his final breath (323)
  • identified U-869 on 8/31/1997


  • has other books to read


  • written history can be fallible, go back to original sources; history is a work in progress
  • new technology and managing risk: trimix

Audio interview with Chatterton and Kohler

  • Kohler's quote from German U-boat commander (from Dad 2021-08-14): "Life is a matter of luck, and the odds of success are not enhanced by extreme caution"


  • Hitler's U-boar War by Clay Blair
  • U-boats Under the Swastika (Naval Institute Press)

Created: 2021-07-10
Updated: 2023-01-23-Mon