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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2014
Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, only weeks before the end of WW II, a Japanese submarine launched torpedoes at the USS Indianapolis. Two found their mark and within fifteen minutes the cruiser went down without a trace. Some 900 men were in the shark infested waters of the Philippine Sea. Only 317 remained alive when rescue occurred five days later. This is the story of one of them.

Harrell recounts his experience on the USS Indianapolis, the battles, transporting uranium-235 that would be used in the bombs dropped on Japan, and the submarine attack. His experience in the ocean is amazing. He gives all the glory to God saying it was God's unfailing presence that sustained him. He helps us understand what happens to the body when in water that long. He tells of the thirst, the shark attacks, crying out to God, twelve foot swells, rain, the life jackets getting water logged, and then the miraculous rescue.

There was a naval cover up of the incident as blame was placed on the skipper. The truth finally came out fifty years later when documents were declassified. Several of the men formed a survivors group and went to battle for the skipper, ultimately seeing his name exonerated.

This is a timely account of that war. Memories of WW II are fading and many of the younger generation know nothing of the heroes of that era. This is a great book to remind us of what that generation sacrificed for our freedom.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2014
This is the story of the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis told from firsthand account. I was familiar with the basics of the story before I read this book but had never read about the incident in detail before. The book pretty much had me hooked from the beginning. It's a difficult story to read but the author tells how his faith and his belief in God grew because of the experience. It also details the cover up blaming the captain following the incident which was difficult to read after there had already been so much suffering. I am a history buff so I found this book a compelling read, but the writing was excellent so I think even someone who did not love history would enjoy this book.

Bethany House publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2014
I was a little hesitant about this book at first, but after the first few pages I could not put it down. It is the story of the USS Indianapolis. Harrell relates his experiences in simple, convincing detail. His description of training and life on the ship revealed the same experiences found in several other firsthand accounts lending authenticity early on to this story.

As he continues certain questions arise as to the conduct of the war and the level of secrecy that was maintained by the leadership at the highest levels. And finally as the Indianapolis is sent out without escort or knowledge of the danger they could and did encounter the reader begins to understand the repercussions of policies in place at the time. The ship is sunk by a submarine, the crew left to fend for themselves without any action to question the fate of the ship when it did not arrive as expected.

After his return stateside he and others set about the task of clearing their captain’s name after he had born the weight of guilt for the disaster. Yes, according to this book, the government was definitely culpable in a cover up to keep the populace from knowing the extent of the event and the lack of response. The survivors did finally succeed in their efforts, years later and only after the captain had endured the shame and hate spewed at him.

But that is not the total point of this story. Harrell’s reason for telling this is much deeper and totally related to the God that he believed remained in control of this situation the entire time. In the final chapter Harrell comes to grips with the need of forgiveness---even toward the commander of the submarine that ordered the attack on his ship.

I do recommend this book fully. If you have ever wondered how somebody got through a really difficult time in their life, this one will give you lots of insight as to the part God played and the part the person played.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2014
Edgar Harrell with David Harrell in their new book “Out Of The Depths” published by Bethany House Publishers gives us An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

From the back cover: The Inspiring Story of a World War II Hero’s Miraculous Survival at Sea

July 30, 1945–The USS Indianapolis and its 1,196-man crew is making its way toward a small island in the South Pacific. The ship is sailing unescorted, assured by headquarters the waters are safe. It is midnight, and Marine Edgar Harrell and several others have sacked out on deck rather than spend the night in their hot and muggy quarters below. Fresh off a top-secret mission to deliver uranium for the atomic bombs that would ultimately end World War II, they are unaware their ship is being watched. Minutes later, six torpedoes are slicing toward the Indy . . .

For five horrifying days and nights after their ship went down, Harrell and his shipmates had to fend for themselves in the open seas. Plagued by dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks, their numbers were cruelly depleted before they were miraculously rescued. This is one man’s story of courage, ingenuity, and faith in God’s providence in the midst of the worst naval disaster in U.S. history.

There is a shining moment in the movie, “Jaws” where Robert Shaw gets a chance to really act. The others have made fun of his tattoo and he explains it to them. The tattoo is of the USS Indianapolis and he tells them it had been torpedoed and no one knew they had been sunk because they were on a top-secret mission. It took five days before the survivors could be rescued. It is riveting in the movie it is much more riveting in this book. Edgar Harrell was there! He experienced events that most of us will never encounter. It took a great deal of faith to come through those five days and nights. I am so glad he took the time to tell us about not only the actual events but how he was able to make it through. If you like your stories real and epic then this book is for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2015
Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell is the true story of the heroic and courageous men of the USS Indianapolis that was torpedoed by the Japanese during WWII. Out of the 1,196 man crew ultimately only 317 total survived. The ship was hit July 1945 and sank almost immediately. The captain sent orders to abandon ship. Mr. Harrell along with others found themselves in the cold, dark, oily, shark infested ocean waters with only a life vest to keep them afloat. For four long days and nights they clung to life waiting for rescue. It wasn't until the fifth day that they were found. Nine hundred men survived the attack and landed in the water but only three hundred seventeen survived the ordeal of waiting for rescue. Some were eaten by sharks. Others could not survive their injuries and many just couldn't hold out and gave up. Much speculation and blame has been tossed about as to why the ship wasn't missed and search parties sent out. The captain was even wrongly put on trial trying to place the blame at his feet. He was later exonerated of the charges. The things these men endured while waiting for rescue was really hard to realize. Mr. Harrell and many of the others clung to their faith and prayed and quoted scripture. Some of the things that happened during their ordeal could only be attributed to God answering their prayers even if it was in the form of a crate of semi-rotten potatoes among other things. A quote of Mr. Harrell's that really stuck with me was that he said he was brought out of the depths of the ocean but more importantly he was brought out of the depths of his sin and rescued by the blood of Christ. My father-in-law served in the US Navy during WWII, so I'm always interested in anything having to do with that period of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
“Every survivor of war has stories to tell – stories of triumph and tragedy, faith and fear – stories like mine, where fact is often stranger than fiction. Since that fateful night in 1945 when I stepped off a sinking ship into the unknown depths of the Pacific Ocean, there has never been a day when I have not reflected upon the horrors I experienced in the four and a half days of swimming in shark-infested waters. However, while those frightening memories remain vivid in my mind’s eye, one memory eclipses them all – namely the unfailing presence of God that sustained me.

Luck had absolutely nothing to do with my survival. I believe with all my heart that it was solely by the providence of God that I lived through those dreadful days and nights.”

When a book starts out like that, you know it’s going to be an intense, yet inspiring tale. And I promise you, that’s exactly the kind of story Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is.

It reads easy, but I don’t mean the material itself is easy to take in. It’s an incredible tale, but harrowing. Even while reading his descriptions, I cannot imagine surviving in the Pacific Ocean for that long after your ship sank in 12 minutes. It’s beyond amazing.

“It was a living hell. I’ll never forget the fires, the horrified faces, and the cacophony of screams. I can still hear the explosions and the screeching metal being twisted and torn by the tons of water the ship was taking on.”

War is ugly. But even in such darkness (like WWII), stories of amazing survival emerge and you can’t help but be inspired. Harrell’s tale is one everyone should read. His faith is also an incredible example of what it means to truly trust God when it is the absolute darkest of times. Even the words of his fellow survivors and what kept them going for those five days was inspiring: “I prayed silently for the first time in my life. Don’t let anyone tell you he cannot pray; even an atheist cannot deny the existence of God. We prayed to God to ease our pains. We prayed to God not to forsake us, not let us die, to save us. The soothing effects of prayer linked us together as we began to try and to help each other.” Even in the most unimaginable circumstances, God is always there; from how many survived each night to how they were eventually rescued shows that truth in an incredible way.

“If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” Psalm 139:9-10

Harrell also includes photos and other survivors anecdotes, giving a complete picture of their journey. It gave faces to names and their stories.

This was an excellent read for history buffs, but also for anyone. I really makes you stop and think of all that was given so we can be the country we are today and also for the gift of freedom we have. Not everyone today does and there are those fighting to make that happen. Freedom isn’t free. It’s the courage and sacrifice of men and women that have made it possible. I’m humbled and thankful once again after reading this book.

If you liked Unbroken, then you definitely need to pick this one up!

What are some of your favorite World War II favorites?

(Thank you Bethany House for the copy in exchange for my honest opinion)

Originally posted at: [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in July of 1945, having delivered the major components of the weapons that ended World War II. And, if you have seen the movie Jaws, you are well aware that many of the men aboard ship survived the sinking, only to die in the water from the elements and the sharks.

Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell, a Marine aboard the Indianapolis on that day, retells not only the story of the sinking, but the aftermath. Harrell provides many more details than Quint brought up on the Orca.

The primary emphasis here, though, is not on the sinking of the ship. While Harrell explains what happened, and he consistently speaks highly of his shipmates. The experience that Harrell and his fellow Marines and sailors endured is beyond understanding. That any of them survived is a marvel.

Naturally, though, there were aftershocks that we have rarely considered. As the last major vessel lost by the US Navy in World War II, there were more consequences and concerns afterward than any other sinking. In fact, Captain McVay was one of the only (if not the only) Captain court-martialed for the sinking of his ship. (Side note: it was formerly, 17th-18th century, the practice of the British Navy to automatically court-martial a captain who lost his ship, to ascertain facts of the event. )

Harrell goes to great lengths to explain how he and many of the survivors he knew felt Captain McVay was treated unfairly. He felt that the captain was scapegoated, and that the overall failure was systemic.

Overall, though, this is a story of faith in the midst of trials. Harrell clung strongly to his faith in God throughout his ordeal, and further used that faith to provide comfort to his fellow survivors. He also sees the events as important to understanding justice and the pursuit of truth, noting how Captain McVay was finally exonerated some 30 years after his death.

This is not an easy book to read, as it details the struggles against the elements and the attacks of the sharks. Every moment is not detailed, but the ones that are can be cringe worthy. These were truly men who faced a string of challenges and pulled through.

I can heartily recommend this as a look at one of the most-known-on-the-surface events of World War II. Many of us know it happened, but few know what occurred.

Free book from the publisher in exchange for the review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
Character, someone said, is what you do when no one is looking. Edgar Harrell and the survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis exhibited selflessness and courage as they faced the long, dark nights and incredible days in the pacific ocean. Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is an amazing story that left me near tears when I closed the last page.

The forward is written by Lt. Col. Oliver North. His definition of heroism is:

"...a person who has wittingly put himself in grave physical jeopardy for the benefit of another. Heroes are people who overcome evil by doing good at great personal risk. Through self-sacrifice, fortitude, and action, whether they succeed or fail, heroes provide a moral and ethical framework--and inspiration--for the rest of us." What North explained in this chapter was how our re-definition of heroism is not the true definition. It is not, "the athlete who just set a new sports record," "Nor the 'daring' movie star or even the adventurer out to be the first solo climber to scale Mount Everest. They may be brave--but they don't meet the definition of hero, for whatever they achieve benefits only themselves." (emphasis mine).

The survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis were afloat at seat with just debris or flotation devices for five days. Nine hundred, oil-soaked survivors of a torpedo attack during World War II were in the shark-infested waters, and at the end of five days, only 317 were still alive. Hypothermia, shark attacks, dehydration, and many other maladies thinned out their number. Edgar recounts those five terrifying days in morbid detail, but what rose above the terror was Edgar's faith in a God greater than death. He kept his comrades, to the best of his ability, close, keeping them encouraged. Some tried to commit suicide, but Edgar tried to keep them from giving up. He writes of amazing peace that he found from the moment he went into the water. This is what North described as heroism.

Edgar and his men could have done a hundred things more self-serving, and yet through the five days, they tried to keep each other alive. When they were rescued and had to sit in a rescue plane while the rescue plane waited for help, many of the men, including Edgar, remained honest about their water rations so that their fellow soldiers might get their rations before the water supply ran out. In this culture, I'm not sure people would do that anymore. It seems like our everyday decisions are me-focused, for our comfort only, even if it means we lie about it. In that instance, I believe we justify a small lie to satisfy an intense desire for something or to do something. In the case of Edgar and the surviving men, severe dehydration and illness did not stop them from making sure other soldiers got first serving.

Edgar demonstrated how courage is a mindset. It's something you put on every morning, like a coat or a shirt. In this case, Edgar read scripture. That scripture kept him strong during those horrific five days. The mindset of courage before disaster strikes is shown in Edgar's behavior in the sea. It helped him make the right decisions under pressure. Every good moral compass needs a scriptural foundation in which to point north from. I gave this book five stars because it almost made me cry.

*book given by publisher to review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, by Edgar Harrell , U.S.M.C, with David Harrell was the perfect reading material for Memorial Day! This amazing account of history reads like a riveting novel. But truth is stranger than fiction.

I must have been living in a cave to not have ever heard about the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis right at the end of World War II, although it sounds as though the Navy shrouded the sinking in cover-up and scandal for decades, so I need to do more research on the incident. Political scandal has always taken time to reveal, and I am grateful for Edgar Harrell's profound efforts to untarnish the reputation of the ship's captain. How great that Edgar Harrell and David Harrell have brought this story to light in 2014!

Reading this book is like being in the water with these Marines and Sailors when they were stranded for 5 days in the Pacific Ocean. A reader can feel the frigid water temperatures and hypothermia, sense the fear and anxiety of being bumped by man-eating sharks, empathize with the men who experienced delirium from Post-Traumatic Stress, grieve over the loss of life in the ocean, and celebrate God's deliverance upon rescue!

We Americans should be so grateful on THIS MEMORIAL DAY for the men and women who have stood in harm's way to protect our freedoms in the United States. The saying is not trite: Freedom is not free. I praise God for these men who were traumatized and the many who died delivering the final components of the bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their "last true measure of freedom" secured freedom for our country in 1945.

In one of his epistles, Paul reminds us to "count it all joy." Edgar and David Harrell tell the story of a man who was able to deepen his faith and joy in The Lord through a harrowing ordeal. You will be blessed by your reading of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
Whoa. That is what I said many times while reading this amazing story. This story gives the gruesome and horrific details of a true story that many people don’t truly know. Edgar Harrell, a Marine aboard the USS INDIANAPOLIS, tells his story in a very real way. This is the type of story where after your done reading it, the story stays with you and you can’t stop thinking about it.
There were many aspects of this story that I was unaware of and I am sure isn’t taught in history classes. This story not only tells what happened during their survival at sea, but what also happened to the survivors afterwards. Like how badly they were treated, how blame for the incident was placed on the wrong person, and how justice was never truly served until 50 years later. This is such an inspiring story that will remind you that with God you can get through anything. And I honestly cannot think of anything else that would be worse than what those service men went through.

The first two chapters in the book start out by giving you background information on Harrell and the ship. Then when you hit chapter three, the tragic story unfolds. Throughout the book are old photographs that make the story come alive even more. There were a few spots in the story that looked like a repeat of what was said earlier in the book, almost like they moved part of the story to a different page in the book and forgot to delete it from the original spot. However this did not hurt the story in anyway, whether the repeated facts were intentional or not. While this book doesn’t have the most incredible writing style or the best structure, I didn’t really look at that while reviewing this book. Because I knew that the author was not a professional writer, he was a survivor that needed to tell his story.

This book is a must read for anyone who loves history, true war stories, and anyone who doesn’t know true story of the USS INDIANAPOLIS.
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