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In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

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A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster — and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived. Interweaving the stories of survivors, Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless. The definitive account of a little-known chapter in World War II history, In Har A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster — and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived. Interweaving the stories of survivors, Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless. The definitive account of a little-known chapter in World War II history, In Harm's Way is destined to become a classic tale of war, survival, and extraordinary courage. On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated 300 men were killed upon impact; close to 900 sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they remained undetected by the navy for nearly four days and nights. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia, and dementia. The captain's subsequent court-martial left many questions unanswered: How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? And perhaps most amazing of all, how did these 317 men manage to survive?


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A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster — and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived. Interweaving the stories of survivors, Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless. The definitive account of a little-known chapter in World War II history, In Har A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster — and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived. Interweaving the stories of survivors, Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless. The definitive account of a little-known chapter in World War II history, In Harm's Way is destined to become a classic tale of war, survival, and extraordinary courage. On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated 300 men were killed upon impact; close to 900 sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they remained undetected by the navy for nearly four days and nights. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia, and dementia. The captain's subsequent court-martial left many questions unanswered: How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? And perhaps most amazing of all, how did these 317 men manage to survive?

30 review for In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Japanese torpedo slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. Just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for half an hour...Sometimes that shark looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And you know the thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya he doesn't seem to be living...until he Japanese torpedo slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. Just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for half an hour...Sometimes that shark looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And you know the thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya he doesn't seem to be living...until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then...you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces... So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. -- Robert Shaw as "Quint" in Jaws The famous monologue in Jaws, one of the great scenes in all movie history, helped save the USS Indianapolis from the dustbin of history. It was one of the Navy's all-time great tragedies. A US battle cruiser is torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. 300 men are killed instantly. 900 men abandon ship. They remain at sea for five days, where they are beset by sharks and hypothermia. The Navy doesn't know they're missing and rescue is accidental. Only 321 are saved. This was in the waning days of World War II, and with the news of the atomic bombs falling and the war ending, the sad tale almost escaped notice. Since Quint's monologue, the story of the Indianapolis has been told several times, often ably. There was Richard Newcomb's Abandon Ship and Raymond Lech's All the Drowned Sailors (which traumatized me as a kid). There was also a slapdish TV movie starring Stacy Keach and Richard "John Boy" Thomas called Mission of the Shark (I believe it was spliced together with National Geographic footage of sharks and shots of Stacy Keach floating in his backyard swimming pool). Doug Stanton doesn't offer anything new, per se, but he gives a nice, updated retelling of this horrible event. The book starts with Captain Charles Butler McVeigh's suicide. McVeigh was the commander of the Indianapolis. Following the disaster, in an unusual and unprecedented (and spiteful) move, the Navy court-martialed him. The only captain ever court-martialed for losing a ship in war time. To add salt to the wound, the Navy called Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander, to testify! After McVeigh's death, we flash back to San Francisco in 1945. The Indianapolis sets sail with the components for the atomic bomb. After dropping off its lethal cargo, it sails through enemy waters without an escort. McVeigh is not zig-zagging, which is standard anti-submarine doctrine for the day. The I-58 sees her and fires a fan of six torpedoes. It took less than a minute for two of the torpedoes to intercept the Indianapolis. At 12:05 A.M. all hell broke loose. The first torpedo hit the forward starboard, or right, side and blew an estimated sixty-five feet of the bow skyward. It was simply obliterated. Men were thrown fifteen feet in the air. Those who weren't blown in two landed on their feet, stunned, their ears ringing. The second explosion occurred closer to midship and was even more massive. The sea itself seemed to be burning. The first torpedo had smashed one gas tank containing 3,500 gallons of high-octane aviation fuel, igniting a burning river that reduced the bulkheads and doors to red-hot slabs of steel. The fuel incinerated everything in its path. The number one smokestack, acting as a chimney for the inferno raging below, belched a volcanic streamer of fire that shot several hundred feet into the air, littering the ships with sparks and cinders." As this excerpt shows, Stanton is a muscular writer. He uses simple, powerful sentences and often slips into standard action-movie cliches ("all hell broke loose"). Still, it makes for a propulsive read. And it gets better as it moves forward. Once in the water, Stanton follows a variety of sailors: Captain McVeigh, who found a life raft; Dr. Haynes, who bravely treated the men in the water as best he could (oil as sunscreen!); as well as a number of ordinary seamen who gave vivid accounts of the ordeal. Not only does he maintain a good narrative, but Stanton also includes fascinating bits of science, so that you really get a grasp of what happened to these men, left out in the Pacific. As soon as the sun set, as it did with guillotine-like speed this close to the equator, the boys started shivering uncontrollably. This was the body's way of generating heat, but it quadrupled the rate of oxygen consumed. Hypothermia depresses the central nervous system as the body slows to conserve energy, and at a core temperature of 93 degrees (nearly 5 degrees below normal), speech becomes difficult, apathy develops, and amnesia typically sets in. At around 91 degrees, the kidneys stop filtering the body's waste - urination stops - and hypoxia, or poisoning, commences. Breathing becomes labored, the heart beats raggedly, and consciousness dims. The afflicted fall into an inattentive stupor. Like Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm, Stanton admirably intertwines the personal stories of these men with the physiological effects of the ordeal (aside from his description of hypothermia, there is a great passage on dehydration and the disastrous consequences of drinking salt water). The things these young men - some very young - endured defies description, though Stanton does his best. He tells of men who start hallucinating and fighting their buddies, mistaking them for the Japanese. He describes men suffering from hypothermia, hypernatremia, photophobia and dehydration. And of course he describes the sharks - the emblem of this tragedy - always circling the floating men. (Stanton estimates that of the 900 water deaths, 200 were from shark attacks, an average of 50 a day) Stanton is an unabashed admirer of the survivors, for good reason, and does not hide his outrage over McVeigh's later treatment. One suspects that the Navy was trying to hide its own incompetence by railroading McVeigh. Indeed, it was the Navy that failed to provide an escort and the Navy that failed to realize the Indianapolis wasn't in port. It was only a fortuitous pass-over by a scout plane that saved the Indianapolis's remaining sailors. As a side note, despite McVeigh's conviction, he stayed in the Navy and, shortly before his retirement, was promoted to rear admiral. Decades later, a school boy from Florida named Hunter Scott, as part of a school project, set out to clear McVeigh's name. Because the US Congress can't say no to a school boy (I'm looking at you Mark Foley), it passed a (nonbinding) resolution exonerating McVeigh. This was supposed to have been made into a movie, but alas, I am stuck with my VHS copy of Mission of the Shark.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ In the early morning of July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis (after delivering the makings of what was known as “Little Boy” – the atomic bomb that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima) was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes nearly sheared the Indianapolis in half and within 12 minutes the entire ship would vanish to one of the deepest burial grounds in the ocean. Nearly 300 men would die almost immediately – clos Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ In the early morning of July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis (after delivering the makings of what was known as “Little Boy” – the atomic bomb that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima) was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes nearly sheared the Indianapolis in half and within 12 minutes the entire ship would vanish to one of the deepest burial grounds in the ocean. Nearly 300 men would die almost immediately – close to 900 would make it off the ship. In Harm’s Way is the true story of what happened in the four days it took for the military to discover the survivors . . . . This has been on my to-read list for an eternity. In my mind it was always a book that could only be read during Shark Week. As my bad luck and failing brain would have it, I generally put myself on the wait list too late and have simply been putting this off every year when the timing failed. Until this year. As someone who does not read a lot of non-fiction I will say this earns every one of its 5 Stars for being succinct, not bogged down in military lingo and technical mumbo jumbo and presenting a story so horrifyingly fascinating it read like fiction. A must read for every shark addict . . . .

  3. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    “Very first light, Chief…sharks come cruisin'.” Can you name that movie? Yep, you and everybody else guessed it: the 1975 classic Jaws. I’d argue that the majority of those from every generation since the 1970’s to present first learned of the USS Indianapolis and her crew’s fate through this film alone; I did when I first saw it at about six or seven years of age and to be perfectly honest the story scared the living shit out of me cuz unlike the fictional motion picture, it really happened “Very first light, Chief…sharks come cruisin'.” Can you name that movie? Yep, you and everybody else guessed it: the 1975 classic Jaws. I’d argue that the majority of those from every generation since the 1970’s to present first learned of the USS Indianapolis and her crew’s fate through this film alone; I did when I first saw it at about six or seven years of age and to be perfectly honest the story scared the living shit out of me cuz unlike the fictional motion picture, it really happened. Notwithstanding the scenes of the first attack and the shark’s watery emergence toward the chum-throwing Chief Brody, Quint’s telling of this infamous World War II naval tragedy, for me, is probably the most fascinating moment of the film and arguably the greatest monologue in cinematic history, hence the root of my interest with the late naval cruiser bearing the name of the Hoosier State’s capitol city. If you are a fan of the movie and are curious to know the real story of what happened in the Philippine Sea in late July and early August 1945, then take a look at In Harm's Way. Even the cover of the current edition of this book resembles some of the long shots of a famous boat in film noir that’s christened after another sea predator of the mammalian variety, thereby linking pop culture with history well. After arriving at Tinian in the Mariana Islands and delivering key components of “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb which would later be assembled and dropped on Hiroshima by the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, the Indianapolis set sail for Guam and then onward to the Philippine Island of Leyte to begin preparations and training for the invasion of Japan. The cruiser had been struck and almost sunk by a kamikaze plane during the Battle of Okinawa a few months earlier and the repairs at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard adjacent to Vallejo, CA were rushed and not adequately completed, making the hull weaker than usual. Sailing alone on a moonless night without destroyer escort or even its own anti-submarine sonar technology, the Indy became a sitting duck and was hit by two torpedoes just after midnight on July 29, 1945 by the Japanese submarine I-58. In 12 minutes the ship receded below the waves forever. Due to mishaps in communication between various Naval and Army personnel at HQ’s and intelligence stations on Guam, Peleliu and Leyte, hardly anyone landbound knew of the overdue Indy until sadly too much time had passed. Those who had been able to abandon ship were adrift in the sea for over a hundred hours battling man-eating sharks, hypothermia, sun-exposure, dehydration, lack-of-sleep, hallucinations and dementia. They were finally rescued due to a serendipitous sighting by the crew of an anti-submarine aircraft on patrol in the middle of thousands of square miles of open ocean. Interestingly, one of the last survivors to be extracted from the sea was Giles McCoy, a teenaged Marine veteran of the Battle of Peleliu who thought surviving on that "Island of Hell" wasn't anything like his fight for life after the Indy’s sinking because of the constant feeling of complete helplessness, let alone the harsh environmental elements. The good-looking, popular and adept Captain Charles McVay would become a scapegoat by being court-martialed and convicted of the disaster which was considered an injustice among the surviving crew, press and many in the public. After years of guilt and receiving constant hate-mail even from the families of his lost crewmen, the captain would commit suicide in 1968 at the age of 70. He wouldn't be exonerated by the US Navy until 2001. This is an excellent story of man vs. the sea set during the twilight days of WWII. Think you’re having a bad day at work? Remind yourself of the four-day ordeal of the Indianapolis’ crew and you’ll stop complaining; cuz it could be a lot worse. I recommend this 6-outta-5-star book to literally… everyone .

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    OMG...Goosebumps. REALLY! After delivering the last component of the A-bomb, the USS Indianapolis (carrying a crew of almost 1,200) is torpedoed. Within 12 minutes, an estimated 300 men have been killed, 900 have been forced into the oil-slicked, shark-infested sea, the ship has been sunk, and the first in a long line of oversights will guarantee the US navy is totally unaware of the ships fate until it is too late for more than 2/3 of displaced men. This story, competently told by Doug Stanton, s OMG...Goosebumps. REALLY! After delivering the last component of the A-bomb, the USS Indianapolis (carrying a crew of almost 1,200) is torpedoed. Within 12 minutes, an estimated 300 men have been killed, 900 have been forced into the oil-slicked, shark-infested sea, the ship has been sunk, and the first in a long line of oversights will guarantee the US navy is totally unaware of the ships fate until it is too late for more than 2/3 of displaced men. This story, competently told by Doug Stanton, sucked me in, wrenched my heart, and spit me back out a changed person. Of course, I love these types of survival stories to begin with, but to Stanton's credit, he does a marvelous job in telling, also giving us a glimpse of the survivor's life in the aftermath of the tragedy. Great, fast-paced read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

    I tore through Doug Stanton’s In Harm’s Way at breakneck speed. The book read like a novel. I flipped through the pages like a hot knife passes through whipped butter. Stanton’s book is so readable. The Indianapolis was the ship tasked to carry the first atomic bomb from San Francisco over to the US strategic airbase at Tinian for eventual deployment over Hiroshima. After discharging her cargo, the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine somewhere between Guam and Okinawa. This disaster was the re I tore through Doug Stanton’s In Harm’s Way at breakneck speed. The book read like a novel. I flipped through the pages like a hot knife passes through whipped butter. Stanton’s book is so readable. The Indianapolis was the ship tasked to carry the first atomic bomb from San Francisco over to the US strategic airbase at Tinian for eventual deployment over Hiroshima. After discharging her cargo, the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine somewhere between Guam and Okinawa. This disaster was the result of a series of blunders beyond the ship and her captain’s control. Ah, but the Navy had to have a scapegoat. The ship’s Captain, Charles B. McVay would fulfill that role. In the author’s opinion and mine, McVay was railroaded by the Secretary of the Navy, James Forestall and Ernest J. King. Why? He wasn’t zigzagging. The Department of the Navy even brought in the Japanese submarine Captain to testify against Captain McVay. Too bad for them, the Captain testified that zigzagging wouldn't of made a difference in this instance. A US Submarine Captain then testified the same thing. It didn't matter. The Captain was found guilty. The Navy had their scapegoat. The men were adrift in shark infested waters for 4 days before they were discovered. Their SOS was ignored. They did not show up in port and that was also ignored. It was a grueling ordeal and men were hallucinating, suffering from hypothermia, severe dehydration, and poisoning from the ingestion of salt water. The life preservers were becoming waterlogged and losing their buoyancy. The shark feeding frenzy led to the deaths of 200 men. Finally, the men were discovered by a US Navy patrol squadron looking for enemy submarines. The Navy, several hours into the rescue, was still not aware that the ship was missing! The brave men of the USS Indianapolis were in the water for 4 days and I finished the book in three afternoon sittings. I love it when a book does this to me. I regret that I ran out of pages. I will read more Doug Stanton books in the future. This book is not only a testament to the severe sacrifice of a group of Naval and Marine Veterans from WWII - that alone would of made this story worth reading. However, there was so much more. Stanton learned that his book helped the survivors cope with this disaster. Men didn't understand why some shipmates just all of a sudden gave up and drowned. One veteran said at a Indianapolis reunion that he was a bit ashamed and a bit baffled by this until he read the book. The book allowed the survivors to finally understood the science about what was happening after wading in 85F seawater for 4 days and ingesting all the poisons from the sea. Finally, this book along with a 6th graders history project was used to help exonerate Captain McVay for the loss of the Indianapolis by President Bill Clinton in October of 2000. This book leaves me wondering: Do we always have to have a scapegoat following a disaster?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joy D

    True story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis torpedoed and sunk near the end of WWII by a Japanese submarine. Based on interviews with survivors, extensive research, and review of declassified information, the author sheds light on what really happened to the ship and its crew. It starts with an ending, then traces the ship’s last journey from San Francisco to Tinian to deliver an important cargo to its final resting place at the bottom of the Philippine Sea. It brings to light the series of miscommuni True story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis torpedoed and sunk near the end of WWII by a Japanese submarine. Based on interviews with survivors, extensive research, and review of declassified information, the author sheds light on what really happened to the ship and its crew. It starts with an ending, then traces the ship’s last journey from San Francisco to Tinian to deliver an important cargo to its final resting place at the bottom of the Philippine Sea. It brings to light the series of miscommunications, misguided naval directives, and errors in judgment that led to the survivors spending an inordinate amount of time awaiting rescue, resulting in unnecessary deaths at sea. The captain became a scapegoat for an act of war to divert attention from this series of fiascos. In addition to the riveting human saga, it includes scientific explanations for the miseries endured by the survivors. This book comprises a crisp, well-told, powerful piece of history. Recommended to those interested in the history of WWII, survival stories, or rectification of injustice. An impressive work that made a difference.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    Like About Face and the Pat Tillman story, this book leaves one highly disillusioned. I know I should praise the heroism of the survivors of this horrific tragedy (and that is a given), but my primary reaction to this book was actually one of disgust and great cynicism concerning the US military. At every step of the way the USS Indianapolis was exploited - in the mad rush to get the atomic bomb over to Japan she was rushed through maintenance repairs, upon arrival in the Pacific her captain was Like About Face and the Pat Tillman story, this book leaves one highly disillusioned. I know I should praise the heroism of the survivors of this horrific tragedy (and that is a given), but my primary reaction to this book was actually one of disgust and great cynicism concerning the US military. At every step of the way the USS Indianapolis was exploited - in the mad rush to get the atomic bomb over to Japan she was rushed through maintenance repairs, upon arrival in the Pacific her captain was given false information about Japanese sub activity, upon being sunk her SOS messages (whose sendings were heroic efforts in and of themselves) were disregarded, and her non-arrival at her destination was conveniently ignored (multiple times). You want to scream in rage "How could this happen". Next, when the very small minority of her crew who survived the torpedoing were finally wrenched from the sea 3-4 days later, starving, delerious, sun-scorched, hypothermic, hallucinating, and psychologically traumatized from seing mate after mate snatched under the waves by sharks, the story made the news for about 1 day before the very bomb she delivered was used to end the war. Instead of a ticker tape parade for the heroes who delivered the bomb that ended the war - sacrificing their ship and most of their lives in the effort - the survivors returned to San Diego months later to a lame welcome party from the local Salvation Army. Noone, least of all the Navy, wanted to disrupt the feel good vibe of VJ day with a horror story like this. As one final awful insult, the captain, portrayed by the author and corroborated by every survivor as a truly decent man, was court-martialed by the US Navy for not "zig-zagging" to avoid submarine fire. I cannot imagine anything more ludicrous than a ship that size "zig-zagging". Eventually he decides he would rather not live than continue to receive the hate mail that never ceased even 20 years after the war. This is an important story that desperately needed to be told, but is not a feel good one, at least to me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim C

    This novel is about the ship Indianapolis which was sunk in WWII after delivering the atom bomb. Everyone mostly knows about this incident from the iconic scene in Jaws when Quint tells Hooper and Chief Brody about his ordeal. I am not a reader of non-fiction books but ever since its mention in the movie and the special (which I highly recommend) during Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I have been fascinated by this incident. This book explains the whole incident from the perspective of the c This novel is about the ship Indianapolis which was sunk in WWII after delivering the atom bomb. Everyone mostly knows about this incident from the iconic scene in Jaws when Quint tells Hooper and Chief Brody about his ordeal. I am not a reader of non-fiction books but ever since its mention in the movie and the special (which I highly recommend) during Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I have been fascinated by this incident. This book explains the whole incident from the perspective of the crew and from the navy side who failed to notice the ship was missing for days. The author did his research from the crew's perspective as the details while they are adrift at sea are amazing and as I was reading I was riveted with their fight to stay alive. I could not stop turning the pages fast enough to see what would happen next. This novel is an amazing book and I recommend everyone to read it. You do not have to be a history buff to enjoy this book. Often I feel like reading a non-fiction book is like doing homework. That is not the case with this book. It drew me in right away and I enjoyed this book so much.

  9. 4 out of 5

    SoulSurvivor

    I read this book again but may again be haunted by the ordeal of these men. About 20 years ago my wife and I were attending an annual Thanksgiving dinner at a small church in rural Bedford County PA. While waiting to be seated I noticed an elderly man wearing a 'USS Indianapolis' cap. Thinking this must be real I approached him and introduced myself, telling him that I was curious whether he had served on that ship. He said he did! I remarked about his bravery and he said “Bravery had nothing to I read this book again but may again be haunted by the ordeal of these men. About 20 years ago my wife and I were attending an annual Thanksgiving dinner at a small church in rural Bedford County PA. While waiting to be seated I noticed an elderly man wearing a 'USS Indianapolis' cap. Thinking this must be real I approached him and introduced myself, telling him that I was curious whether he had served on that ship. He said he did! I remarked about his bravery and he said “Bravery had nothing to do with it, I just didn’t want to be et by the sharks.” I just mentioned that I was familiar with the ordeal (probably from watching the movie 'Jaws"and it had made a great impression on me. He replied "Damnest thing, me and the wife celebrated 40 years married and the kids and grandkids bought us tickets for a cruise. Did they really think I was getting on a ship again?"

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    This was difficult to digest, to be sure. The contemporary accounts of the USS Indianapolis disaster are anecdotes as horrifying and pitiable as any I've ever read. Stanton is careful to avoid salacious lingering, however, and spends ample time before and after the disaster in exploring the lamentable chain of reactions that made the calamity possible. Written with the unadorned brevity of your standard World War II piece, this book is a brisk but stunning read, and it seemed a fair assessment of This was difficult to digest, to be sure. The contemporary accounts of the USS Indianapolis disaster are anecdotes as horrifying and pitiable as any I've ever read. Stanton is careful to avoid salacious lingering, however, and spends ample time before and after the disaster in exploring the lamentable chain of reactions that made the calamity possible. Written with the unadorned brevity of your standard World War II piece, this book is a brisk but stunning read, and it seemed a fair assessment of what really happened (as far as I can surmise), with the side aim of trying to put to rest any notion that McVay's court martial was anything but a perverse PR stunt. Highly, highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    This is the true story of the sinking of the great battleship USS Indianapolis during the final weeks of World War 11. It is heartbreaking to read of the cries of anguish during the attack on the ship. So many young men sent to their graves at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The secret mission of transporting and unloading the nuclear bomb on the small island of Tinian, to be later dropped on Hiroshima was complete. However disaster for the battleship USS Indianapolis and her over 1200 sailors This is the true story of the sinking of the great battleship USS Indianapolis during the final weeks of World War 11. It is heartbreaking to read of the cries of anguish during the attack on the ship. So many young men sent to their graves at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The secret mission of transporting and unloading the nuclear bomb on the small island of Tinian, to be later dropped on Hiroshima was complete. However disaster for the battleship USS Indianapolis and her over 1200 sailors and officers was watching and waiting at the horizon. Security of deciphered codes was so rigid in the Pacific battle plans that neither General MacArthur or Admiral Nimitz informed Captain McVay of Japanese submarines positioned in the retreat path of the USS Indianapolis. To say that keeping the captain in the dark about enemy submarines in his path was a mistake is an understatement. These men knew that the Indianapolis did not have the sonar gear used to detect submarines. Hundreds of men died because of this mistake. The Japanese submarine that sunk the Indianapolis carried the latest in torpedo technology. The war was all but over so the commander of the sub, Mochitsura Hashimoto, was anxious to sink his first enemy ship and return to Japan a hero. Two torpedoes struck the ship ripping it in two. Men scrambled to get on deck and to find life jackets. Horror of horrors three radio stations on the island of Leyte in the Philippines 650 miles to the west, occupied by American troops received SOS messages in the middle of the night yet chose to ignore them thereby leaving the drowning men in peril. Following the war Congress learned of these disregarded messages from the messengers who had reported the distress calls to their superior officers. They were being called upon to defend Captain McVay. One of the officers, Commodore Gillette even called back two fast navy tugs that had set off and already completed seven hours of travel towards the rescue. The description of the sinking warship is thorough, there was fire and oil, huge explosions, large metal equipment and bunk beds landing on the young sailors. Things were equally wretched in the water. Many were burned beyond recognition; they had swallowed oil and salt water and sharks were circling them. Sharks have existed for 400 million years, they have been honed to evolutionary perfection with a jaw two feet wide. The truth about sharks attacking sailors is apparently downplayed by the navy to maintain morale. The young men applied their naval academy training and the few officers who had not drowned took command. Many of the sailors were burned beyond recognition, were covered in oil were alive but near death. They were 12 degrees from the Equator the temperature was nearly 200 degrees, they were swallowing salt water, vomiting and watching hundreds of sharks circling below them killing at least 60 men per day. This accounting of the bravery of the sailors, marines and navy officers is superior to any novel written about WW11. The commander of the Japanese submarine that torpedoed the ship testified at the court case following the war that the American captain could not have prevented the attack. After his return to Japan Commander Hashimoto became a priest. In reading In Harm's Way the thing that moved me the most were the final goodbyes the sailors gave as they died. They, to a man, gave courageous farewells, not crying just accepting that their number had been called, "Tell my mom I love her." No word was allowed to leak out that 1,196 U. S. sailors had.been lost and forgotten at sea for nearly 5 days.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pickle.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Some quick thoughts: As others have noted, the sharks are more addition to the horrors than I had mistakenly gathered from Quint’s incredible, moving, time-seems-to-stop speech in ‘Jaws’ (1975). Hardship so severe that some succumb as almost an alleviation ..... from the sheer concussive, bewildering force of explosions, untended broken bones, searing burns coated in fuel oil, the acidic effect of seawater on the skin after prolonged contact.... apparently particularly harsh in the area in questi Some quick thoughts: As others have noted, the sharks are more addition to the horrors than I had mistakenly gathered from Quint’s incredible, moving, time-seems-to-stop speech in ‘Jaws’ (1975). Hardship so severe that some succumb as almost an alleviation ..... from the sheer concussive, bewildering force of explosions, untended broken bones, searing burns coated in fuel oil, the acidic effect of seawater on the skin after prolonged contact.... apparently particularly harsh in the area in question, the time spent with thoughts of your existence forgone by the rest of humanity. Quint accounts the worst aspect being the final hours waiting for their turn after the arrival of help, I wept with relief as each was pulled on board. Some didn’t trust their luck, attacking the rescuers thinking them enemies, sheer madness from barely floating in mortal danger without food or water for four and a half days in fluctuating equatorial temperatures. The only frame of reference I could grasp for the deeply sad reactions of the saved was Tom Hanks as ‘Captain Philips’ (2013) rescue and subsequent traumatic breakdown. Overall very well researched with the individual stories and experiences of those involved, the varying effects on their lives after, the scapegoating of the Captain. It seemed it took such an awful circumstance to afford him the opportunity to prove his obvious bravery. One poignant account post-rescue relays a loss of trust of the safety afforded from the steel hull thrumming inches between a sailor on his bunk and cold, grey ocean, will stick in my memory. The reason for the delivery and dropping of the bomb I feel is far too huge for me to comprehend currently, only aware of conflicting opinions, I shall be reading up more on this and PTSD.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I would guess that many people only know the story of the USS Indianapolis from the movie 'Jaws' and the story that Quint told in the one scene. This is a story from history that should be known by all Americans. It is a tale of utter despair and the depths to which humans can descend when placed in the worst situation possible. I had read about and seen television programs about the Indianapolis but I learned a lot more about it than ever before. Doug Stanton did an excellent job of getting the I would guess that many people only know the story of the USS Indianapolis from the movie 'Jaws' and the story that Quint told in the one scene. This is a story from history that should be known by all Americans. It is a tale of utter despair and the depths to which humans can descend when placed in the worst situation possible. I had read about and seen television programs about the Indianapolis but I learned a lot more about it than ever before. Doug Stanton did an excellent job of getting the story from the survivors themselves. Of the approximately 1,200 men who were on the Indianapolis when it was torpedoed, approximately 300 died immediately from the explosions and 900 went into the ocean. When they were eventually rescued there were only 317 left alive. It is also the story of how the Navy scapegoated Captain Charles McVay which eventually led to his committing suicide. I had been under the impression that no SOS had been sent from the ship but that turned out to be false. I highly recommend this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book joins other survival epics like Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage that make you repeatedly say "Holy shit, how did they survive that?" And also "Holy shit, I hope I never have to survive that!" Most people today, if they remember the Indianapolis at all, it's from the movie Jaws, when Robert Shaw tells Roy Scheider about the disaster and how a large number of the Indianapolis's crew was eaten by sharks. The cruiser USS Indianapolis was once the flagship of President Roosevelt, but This book joins other survival epics like Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage that make you repeatedly say "Holy shit, how did they survive that?" And also "Holy shit, I hope I never have to survive that!" Most people today, if they remember the Indianapolis at all, it's from the movie Jaws, when Robert Shaw tells Roy Scheider about the disaster and how a large number of the Indianapolis's crew was eaten by sharks. The cruiser USS Indianapolis was once the flagship of President Roosevelt, but by the end of World War II, it had been mostly surpassed by newer, sexier cruisers. In July of 1945, it was given a secret mission - unknown to the crew, or even the captain, it was delivering Little Boy, the first atomic bomb, to the island of Tinian. After completing its mission, the Indy set off for the Philippines, where it was intended to join the fleet that would be launching the expected invasion of Japan. She never arrived. A Japanese submarine captain scored his very first kill that night, and sank the Indy. What happened next was a harrowing four-day survival story followed by questions and recriminations and blame that were not fully settled until over 50 years later. About a third of the crew died in the initial blast, or in the fires that swept the ship as it continued plowing, crippled, through the Pacific. Those who survived to abandon ship had worse ahead of them. There weren't enough life vests or rafts. Many of the men were forced to float adrift without cover or support. They banded together in human chains, and helped each other keep their heads above water, but for the majority of them, it was four days of floating in open ocean without food or water. Even the few who did make it to a raft had very little in the way of supplies. And then there were the sharks. The ocean was full of tiger sharks, makos, and hammerheads. They saw the hundreds of men floating on the surface as a buffet. This wasn't a random attack here or there, like most shark attacks - the attacks, as author Doug Stanton describes them, relayed to him by survivors, were the stuff of horror movies. Men lifted out of the water and carried away in the jaws of a huge shark. Men waking up next a companion floating next to him, only to realize that the lower half of his body was gone, eaten during the night. Sixty men were taken at once in one feeding frenzy. They mostly attacked at night, then left during the day (but never completely), only to return in force the next night. Stanton, who researched the story of the Indianapolis, talked to survivors (an ever decreasing number) who held a reunion decades later. He went through declassified naval documents, and tried to give as complete an account as possible. One of the reasons for the terrible disaster was a tragic series of errors and miscommunications. When the Indianapolis was sunk, they tried to get off a radio message - and unknown to them, their message was sent. And received! But the low-ranking radioman who received it and delivered it personally to a sleeping commander was brushed off. The message was ignored. (This was not quite as shocking as it may seem - late in the war, the Japanese made a habit of sending fake distress calls and other tricks on the radio, trying to mislead or confuse the Americans.) But nonetheless, despite not arriving on schedule, it took several days for the US Navy to realize that the Indianapolis was missing. By the time they finally sent out search and rescue ships, the survivors had been on the water for four days. Many of them died during that time. Some died with their rescue ships in sight. Captain McVay, the Captain of the Indianapolis, was the first naval officer in US history to be court martialed for losing his ship in an act of war. Although all of the survivors agreed that what happened was not McVay's fault, the Navy had apparently decided, in the wake of this disaster that got a lot of press at the time, that the captain would be a scapegoat. The charge against him was basically that by failing to "zigzag" he had endangered the ship and caused its sinking. Ironically, Mochitsura Hashimoto, the captain of the submarine that sank the Indianapolis, was brought to Washington to testify for the prosecution, and instead told the court that even if McVay had put his ship on a zigzag course, it would have made no difference - he'd still have been able to sink it. Nonetheless, McVay was convicted, and his naval career was more or less dead-ended. Years later, in 1968, haunted by the boys who'd died under his command, and by the occasional hate mail from their families that he still received, he committed suicide. Many details of the Indianapolis's sinking were not declassified until 1959, and some details weren't released to the public until the 1990s. It was not until 2000 that the survivors of the Indianapolis got Congress to clear McVay's name and exonerate him. (Commander Hashimoto, who had become a Shinto priest, sent a letter in support of this.) In Harm's Way is a great book if you like true-life survival stories and histories. The most enthralling chapters, of course, are the gruesome days after the sinking, in which Stanton describes the survivors' trials - starvation, dehydration, shark attacks, drowning, some men still suffering third degree burns, their skin peeling away after days of exposure to sun and saltwater, men going mad and attacking each other, or drinking saltwater. The subsequent chapters are about the Navy's reaction to the disaster, and McVay's court martial. All of it is really interesting and I'm surprised this has never been given a Hollywood treatment. That may be largely because even up into the 1990s, the Navy considered it a black mark on the service and didn't want to disclose all the details of how the Indianapolis was sunk and then lost much of her crew. It's probably not a story they'd be happy to cooperate on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dana Stabenow

    If you've ever seen Jaws you're familiar with this story. Days after it delivered Little Boy to Tinian, the battle cruiser USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The attack is so effective that the bow literally vaporizes and because they are running "yoke-modified," or most of the hatches dogged open because the crew is roasting in the tropical heat, water rushes into the hull and the ship sinks in twelve minutes (it took the Titanic two hours and 40 minutes from the time it hit If you've ever seen Jaws you're familiar with this story. Days after it delivered Little Boy to Tinian, the battle cruiser USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The attack is so effective that the bow literally vaporizes and because they are running "yoke-modified," or most of the hatches dogged open because the crew is roasting in the tropical heat, water rushes into the hull and the ship sinks in twelve minutes (it took the Titanic two hours and 40 minutes from the time it hit the iceberg, just as a comparison, and it didn't even have water-tight compartments). An estimated 400 crew members are killed outright in the attack. The rest take to the water, for the next four to five days to be preyed on by sharks (an estimated 200 of them die this way) and suffer from sunburn and hypothermia. Thirst drives many of them to suicide and subsequent hallucinations even to murder. In the end, finally spotted from the air, there are 317 survivors out of a crew of 1,196. Why were they in the water that long? Why wasn't the ship reported missing when it didn't arrive on its duty station? Why was there no reaction to their distress call, heard by at least three separate US Navy radio operators? Stanton answers all of those questions thanks to new information uncovered in the late 90s and those answers do not resound to the credit of the US Navy. The captain is court-martialed and convicted and his crew spends the next fifty years trying to have that conviction overturned. Eventually they succeed, although long after the captain commits suicide in 1968, after too much hate mail from the families of the sailors lost under his command. This is an immediate and horrifyingly riveting read. I can feel the sharks bumping my feet as I type these words. The heroism of some of these men is almost incredible--Doctor Haynes who was treating the men in his group even while they were all moving a mile an hour toward Borneo with no help in sight. I don't think I'm ever going to get over the scene where he buried the dead. Adrian Marks, the PBY pilot who landed in way too rough seas specifically against standing orders and got as many of the survivors on board as possible, even tying some of them to the wings of his craft. Marine private McCoy as he dives repeatedly into the water from their raft, sharks be damned, to retrieve a crewmate who is trying like hell to kill himself. These men, god, these men. Stanton agrees with the overturning of the court-martial's verdict. I don't know, though. One of the reasons there was so much confusion during the sinking was that there had been no emergency drills. Crew members couldn't even get one of the life boats to launch. Very few of the rafts had emergency supplies and almost none of them had water. Whose responsibility was it to make sure his crew was trained, that the survival gear was fully supplied and ready to use in the event of a catastrophic event like this? The captain's. Yeah, you can cite the speed of the sinking for some of the confusion, but even in that twelve minutes some damage control people were on hoses, ready to put out the fire, if only the pumps had still been running. Yes, the mission (to get the bomb to Tinian) was urgent and brief and perhaps didn't allow for some crew training, but the Indianapolis was sailing into harm's way. Why wasn't someone tasked with checking the status of the emergency supplies and the shipworthiness of the launches and rafts? Captain McVay was at minimum negligent here. I have a little experience on ships at sea and the crews are continually training. Much of that time, they are training for potential emergencies. Maybe that's only the way things are now, after hideous object lessons like the Indianapolis. In which case, all those men did not die in vain.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    There are any number of reasons to read this book, but a great excuse for (finally) reading it today is that despite having been sunk on July 30, 1945, after 72 years, in August of 2017, the wreck of the ship was recently discovered, 18,000 feet below the surface. . [NYT coverage here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/wo...] The book has been out long enough, and is sufficiently acclaimed, that there's not much point in rehashing here. Still, it's a remarkable piece of history - an incredibl There are any number of reasons to read this book, but a great excuse for (finally) reading it today is that despite having been sunk on July 30, 1945, after 72 years, in August of 2017, the wreck of the ship was recently discovered, 18,000 feet below the surface. . [NYT coverage here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/wo...] The book has been out long enough, and is sufficiently acclaimed, that there's not much point in rehashing here. Still, it's a remarkable piece of history - an incredible role in WWII (not only for having delivered the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan), but also as the last major ship sunk, and - from a military legal history standpoint - the only ship captain court martialed for the loss of his ship in a high-profile, but deeply flawed proceeding (although his record was later exonerated) - and the tragic loss ... of hundreds of lives, in the sinking, due to starvation and dehydration, and, of course, the sharks. Yes, yes, many, including the author, point to the Indianapolis saga as the genesis of the Jaws movie/franchise. There are all the elements of any significant military history here - bravery and stupidity, miscommunication and error, luck (both bad and good), diffusion of responsibility and allocation of blame/culpability, and ... human strength and will and frailty and everything on the spectrum. Ultimately, the book is a highly personal account, and the author (successfully) humanizes the crew rather than merely collecting and presenting his voluminous research. While I admit that, at times, I found the book inconsistent, that detracted little from the whole, which is an epic effort, elegantly telling a tragic tale that was well worth (re-)telling. A note for e-readers: after completing the book, I found it worthwhile to stop by the library to peruse a hardcover edition for the numerous photos (both in the glossy plates in the photo sections, but also sprinkled throughout at the beginning of chapters). In addition, the inside covers, which list the ship's crew (and indicates the survivors), was chilling. It's one thing to read the number of dead - in the hundreds - but the list really drives home the point. One can only assume that now, with the wreckage's discovery, new editions will be on bookshelves soon -- no doubt, the newer, additional information will only add detail to an extraordinary (and extraordinarily sad) tale.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Twist

    I’ve long contended that one of the greatest scenes in all of movies entails the bonding that took place in Jaws between Brody, Hooper, and Quint as the latter recounted the horror of awaiting rescue in shark infested waters after the USS Indianapolis had been sunk in the South Pacific just days before the end of the second World War. Spielberg’s ability to ratchet tension was a product of our understanding that the account was based on a true event as well as the inherent fear we all have of sh I’ve long contended that one of the greatest scenes in all of movies entails the bonding that took place in Jaws between Brody, Hooper, and Quint as the latter recounted the horror of awaiting rescue in shark infested waters after the USS Indianapolis had been sunk in the South Pacific just days before the end of the second World War. Spielberg’s ability to ratchet tension was a product of our understanding that the account was based on a true event as well as the inherent fear we all have of sharks circling beneath and around us in open water. Doug Stanton does a wonderful job of recreating this tension without visual aids in his well-researched book, IN HARM’S WAY: THE SINKING OF THE USS INDIANAPOLIS. Instead, Stanton relies on backstory, and firsthand accounts of the survivors. He masterfully bounces from group to group among the survivors drifting several miles apart, unaware of other groups. The physical descriptions of ulcerated flesh submerged for days in salt water, shark bumps felt beneath the surface, and the effects of dehydration and sun exposure are palpably painful to read. Stanton pulls no punches in depicting the tragedy while making a convincing case that Captain Charles McVay’s court martial was unjust at best. IN HARM’S WAY is a wonderfully informative recounting of one of the U.S. Navy’s most horrific calamities.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This book tells the incredible journey of the U.S.S. Indianapolis following its route from San Francisco on July 16, 1945 to Tinian delivering the atom bomb "little boy" that would be dropped on Hiroshima on July 26th, and of the courageous young sailors who survived the two torpedo hits by a Japanese submarine on July 30th. The story details the horrific conditions the "boys" endured while in the oil slick waters for nearly five days awaiting rescue. (view spoiler)[ Suffering from dehydration, p This book tells the incredible journey of the U.S.S. Indianapolis following its route from San Francisco on July 16, 1945 to Tinian delivering the atom bomb "little boy" that would be dropped on Hiroshima on July 26th, and of the courageous young sailors who survived the two torpedo hits by a Japanese submarine on July 30th. The story details the horrific conditions the "boys" endured while in the oil slick waters for nearly five days awaiting rescue. (view spoiler)[ Suffering from dehydration, physical and mental exhaustion, hypothermia, fighting off shark attacks, and having hallucinations as well as the pain from burns and broken limbs, it is amazing even 317 of the 900 in the water survived.. The Navy's negligence of not following up on the whereabouts of the Indianapolis and delaying rescue efforts until it was too late for many of the crew is unbelievable. Captain McVay really did get a "raw deal" with the court-martial and taking the entire blame. (hide spoiler)] Author's final note: "We rely on the living to tell the story, but not without remembering the boys who didn't survive".

  19. 4 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    You already heard Quint tell this story in Jaws. This is the longer version. It's horror at its purest. You already heard Quint tell this story in Jaws. This is the longer version. It's horror at its purest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hagedorn

    http://tinyurl.com/3lro2y3 I finished this in less than 2 days. I think that's a record for a 250+ page book. Valid criticisms of this book might include that it reads a bit like death porn, knowing as we do the ending, but those criticisms would have missed the boat (or ship, as it were). As Stanton himself explains in an afterword, his ultimate goal in writing this story was to explore the survivors: their ordeal, their suffering, their lives post-Indianapolis. How do you survive something like http://tinyurl.com/3lro2y3 I finished this in less than 2 days. I think that's a record for a 250+ page book. Valid criticisms of this book might include that it reads a bit like death porn, knowing as we do the ending, but those criticisms would have missed the boat (or ship, as it were). As Stanton himself explains in an afterword, his ultimate goal in writing this story was to explore the survivors: their ordeal, their suffering, their lives post-Indianapolis. How do you survive something like this? Naturally, exploration of this gives us insights into the human character as well as insights into war itself. Clearly, the lack of rescue of these men was due to an extraordinary amount of bad luck (if 8 switches will save your life, and 7 of them fail, this is the situation you'll find yourself in). It also shows how much at fault the Navy really was in this disaster. It's infuriating to read and propels you forward in the story to the next unbelievable bit... and the next one... However, what I would have appreciated at the end was a little bit more about how Captain McVay felt after he heard what happened to the largest number of floating men, as well as more about how the men felt about being survivors and the guilt that comes with that. I know Stanton must have heard the latter and I'm surprised at the lack of it in the book. Regardless, it is beautifully written and for that alone it is worth reading.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mike Wolstat

    I guess I never really needed to know what it was like to drift for days in the open ocean without a boat, but there are very few more vivid scenes that I suppose I'll ever read about. There is something in the discovery of the extremes of human endurance that I find inspiring and I was in tears at the end of this when the survivors were being plucked from the water. This book also goes a long way to exonerate the captain of the ship, who was subsequently court-martialed, something that the survi I guess I never really needed to know what it was like to drift for days in the open ocean without a boat, but there are very few more vivid scenes that I suppose I'll ever read about. There is something in the discovery of the extremes of human endurance that I find inspiring and I was in tears at the end of this when the survivors were being plucked from the water. This book also goes a long way to exonerate the captain of the ship, who was subsequently court-martialed, something that the surviving members of his crew have devoted their lives to rectifying.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Next month marks the 70th anniversary of this WWII incident. Maybe you've heard of it from Quint's monologue in "Jaws" - "Vessel went down in twelve minutes . . . 1,100 men went in the water, 316 come out -- the sharks took the rest." This book is a terrifying and tragic account of the sailors attempting to survive during their four days lost in the Pacific. The endurance and heroism is ultimately inspiring. But enough of the hyperbole - get a copy of this book, read it, and spread the word. Next month marks the 70th anniversary of this WWII incident. Maybe you've heard of it from Quint's monologue in "Jaws" - "Vessel went down in twelve minutes . . . 1,100 men went in the water, 316 come out -- the sharks took the rest." This book is a terrifying and tragic account of the sailors attempting to survive during their four days lost in the Pacific. The endurance and heroism is ultimately inspiring. But enough of the hyperbole - get a copy of this book, read it, and spread the word.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Well researched and well-written account of the unimaginable ordeal suffered by the crew of the cruiser that delivered the components for the Hiroshima bomb. 5 out of every 6 men on the ship died, most while floating in the Philippine Sea for five days and five nights with the sharks. The court-martialed captain was vindicated decades after his suicide. Great read for any fans of the Navy in WWII.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This is powerful. This story of the worst naval disaster in US history is beautifully's told by a first-rate writer. There are times when I was drawn so completely in that I could almost feel the heat of the sun on my back and the terror of the circling sharks. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that there is no way I could truly understand what it must have been like but this is as close as I will ever come, I hope. This is the story of a collection of young men in their prime at their best and at t This is powerful. This story of the worst naval disaster in US history is beautifully's told by a first-rate writer. There are times when I was drawn so completely in that I could almost feel the heat of the sun on my back and the terror of the circling sharks. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that there is no way I could truly understand what it must have been like but this is as close as I will ever come, I hope. This is the story of a collection of young men in their prime at their best and at their worst. I don't know exactly what insights into the human experience I got from this book but I think there were a few. One thing I do know for sure is that Captain Charles B. McVay was royally screwed. The Navy held him responsible for the disaster and forced him to endure a very public court-martial. This despite the fact that he was no more guilty than any other captain who loses his ship to enemy action in wartime. They didn't just ruin his career with that egregious show trial, they ruined his life. In order to cover themselves, his superiors basically hung a great big BLAME ME sign on his back. As it turns out, many did. He regularly received hate mail from relatives of the sailors who were killed, blaming him for their deaths. He was struggling with his own sense of guilt and responsibility and, as a decent, principled man, he took every last one of those letters to heart. It destroyed him in the end. This was a story that needed to be told and it couldn't have been told better than it was here. I highly recommend this one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    In July 1945, The USS Indianapolis made a fast, secret trip from San Francisco to the of island of Tinian, in the South Pacific. What they carried and delivered were the parts of Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon to be dropped on Japan. The delivery safely made, the Indianapolis headed for training maneuvers. On July 30th the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, hit twice, the ship went down in 12 minutes. Of 1,195 men aboard, only 317 survived. Of all the WWII stories I have read, this In July 1945, The USS Indianapolis made a fast, secret trip from San Francisco to the of island of Tinian, in the South Pacific. What they carried and delivered were the parts of Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon to be dropped on Japan. The delivery safely made, the Indianapolis headed for training maneuvers. On July 30th the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, hit twice, the ship went down in 12 minutes. Of 1,195 men aboard, only 317 survived. Of all the WWII stories I have read, this is probably the most horrific. Not only due to the loss of life, the injuries and suffering the sailors endured. Once again WWII Military minds were in CYA mode and blamed the ships Captain for the "incident". There was a lot of blame to go around and none of it, IMO, should have fallen on Captain McVAy. Well researched and written. Recommended for those with an interest in history and/or WWII.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    An amazing and heartbreaking story of survival. I don't want to say anymore, just read it. An amazing and heartbreaking story of survival. I don't want to say anymore, just read it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    I was not educated on the story of the USS Indianapolis. I am haunted by what the men on this ship experienced; and how senseless their misery was, waiting for rescue. A series of mistakes caused this ship to be "lost", meaning nobody missed it after it sunk. Reading about how some took leadership roles, and so many would not give up. The author touched on this when he realized the survivors all shared a deep held belief that they were not going to give up. Have I left an impression on the peopl I was not educated on the story of the USS Indianapolis. I am haunted by what the men on this ship experienced; and how senseless their misery was, waiting for rescue. A series of mistakes caused this ship to be "lost", meaning nobody missed it after it sunk. Reading about how some took leadership roles, and so many would not give up. The author touched on this when he realized the survivors all shared a deep held belief that they were not going to give up. Have I left an impression on the people I love that faced with adversity it is so important to keep fighting and not give up? The Navy held Captain McVay responsible for the sinking of this ship, which was extremely unjust. There was plenty of blame to go around. It was a boat full of examples that life is not fair - war is Hell. This was a fascinating read and it will stay with me. I can only hope to have the courage these men had if put in a similar situation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Doug Clemens

    Wow!  This book starts off with a bang and the story goes from there.  I had never heard of the USS Indianapolis and so this was a great story for me to read.  It played an important role in the war and also revealed a lot about our Navy operations.  Three things that struck me were the unbelievable conditions endured by the survivors, the incompetence of the Navy in not noticing the ship was missing, and the inexcusable assignment of blame to captain of the ship.  It was sad for me to see someo Wow!  This book starts off with a bang and the story goes from there.  I had never heard of the USS Indianapolis and so this was a great story for me to read.  It played an important role in the war and also revealed a lot about our Navy operations.  Three things that struck me were the unbelievable conditions endured by the survivors, the incompetence of the Navy in not noticing the ship was missing, and the inexcusable assignment of blame to captain of the ship.  It was sad for me to see someone so devoted to serving our country being thrown under the bus after surviving such a horrible accident so that the Navy would not appear to be culpable for the loss of life.  It wasn’t just that he was court marshaled.  It was all of the hate mail he received.  He deserved so much better than that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    " Harrowing" is the word for this true story about the worst naval disaster at sea in US history. On July 30, 1945, the cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in the South Pacific. 900 men went into the sea and a nightmarish ordeal began for the men, testing each individual to the limit. Because of the movie "JAWS," I thought the main cause of death was- sharks. But the lack of water--fresh water!--was the worst, as men dying of thirst drank saltwater and died in their hundreds " Harrowing" is the word for this true story about the worst naval disaster at sea in US history. On July 30, 1945, the cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in the South Pacific. 900 men went into the sea and a nightmarish ordeal began for the men, testing each individual to the limit. Because of the movie "JAWS," I thought the main cause of death was- sharks. But the lack of water--fresh water!--was the worst, as men dying of thirst drank saltwater and died in their hundreds for that reason. The story of the men's' battle for survival is an incredible story in itself, but the story of the Navy's failure to rescue the men as fast as possible is also incredible. Astonishingly, it took 5 days to rescue the men. Only 317 men survived.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ctgt

    Most of us have probably heard of the U.S.S. Indianapolis because of the movie Jaws. You remember Quint, Brody and Hooper sitting around drinking and discussing scars. Unfortunately the movie got it wrong, at least about the reason the Indianapolis wasn't initially reported missing. They were delivering part of the atomic bomb but it was through a series of tragic mistakes that the ship wasn't really noted as overdue. From the improper decoding of a message, withholding top secret information on Most of us have probably heard of the U.S.S. Indianapolis because of the movie Jaws. You remember Quint, Brody and Hooper sitting around drinking and discussing scars. Unfortunately the movie got it wrong, at least about the reason the Indianapolis wasn't initially reported missing. They were delivering part of the atomic bomb but it was through a series of tragic mistakes that the ship wasn't really noted as overdue. From the improper decoding of a message, withholding top secret information on possible Japanese sub activity, the Indianapolis being rushed out of repairs from a previous kamikaze attack to Navy protocols and practices in reference to the listing of ship arrivals. 9/10

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