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In Harm's Way Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

4.7 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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On July 26, 1945, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis steamed into port at the Pacific island of Tinian, carrying a cargo that would end World War II: the uranium that would be dropped on Hiroshima just three weeks later. Having delivered its load without incident, Indianapolis moved on toward the Philippines to join the great armada moving in on Japan. Though intelligence reports assured Captain Charles McVay that the route from Guam to Leyte was safe, there were Japanese submarines active in the area. On the night of July 29, having detected with sonar the clinking of dishes aboard the Indianapolis from a distance of more than a dozen miles, the submarine I-58 sank the American ship, killing nearly 900 sailors in the explosion and its terrible aftermath.

Captain McVay was quickly court-martialed for having failed to follow evasive maneuvers, "the first captain in the history of the U.S. Navy," Doug Stanton observes, "to be court-martialed subsequent to losing his ship in an act of war." Although the sailors under his command would insist that McVay had been scapegoated, and although I-58's commander testified before the court that "he would have sunk the Indianapolis no matter what course she was on," McVay was never able to clear his name. He committed suicide in 1968.

Stanton captures the drama of these events in his vigorous narrative, which augments and updates Richard Newcomb's Abandon Ship!. Stanton observes that although McVay was exonerated by an act of Congress in 2000, the conviction still stands in Navy records. Stanton's book makes a powerful case for why that conviction should be overturned, and why the captain and crew of the Indianapolis deserve honor. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Given the stringent precision of the U.S. Navy and military during wartime, how could a WWII battleship carrying over 1,000 men be torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sink, leaving the survivors to bob in the Pacific Ocean at the mercy of elements and predators, without anyone realizing the loss for more than four days? Stanton not only offers a well-researched chronicle of what is widely regarded as the worst naval disaster in U.S. history, but also vividly renders the combatants' hellish ordeal during the sinking, and the ensuing days at sea as well as attempts to cope with the traumatic aftermath. Stanton documents the facts of the case, embellishing his story with lurid details gleaned from interviews with survivors. Though the ship's captain would become the first and only in U.S. naval history to be court-martialed for the loss of his ship, Stanton offers a solid body of evidence to justify the survivors' partially successful efforts to exonerate him. Stanton's omniscient narrative shifts among the individual perspectives of several principal characters, a successful technique that contributes to the book's absorbing, novelistic feel. Readers, of course, must trust Stanton and his research in order to be truly consumed, but the authority of his voice should win over all but the most obsessive skeptics. Illuminating and emotional without being maudlin, Stanton's book helps explain what many have long considered an inexplicable catastrophe. (May 21)Forecast: Following on the heels of the bestselling Abandon Ship, recently resurrected by Peter Maas, this book is unlikely to be ignored. A $150,000 marketing campaign includes a nine-city author tour, national print advertising, and target marketing to the military and naval market.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Abridged edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694524352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694524358
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,329,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey M. Ferguson on May 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My father, Albert Ferguson, stepped off the fantail of the USS Indianapolis the night she was torpedoed. He had served aboard her the entire war, a a Chief Machinist Mate in her engine room. He survived the sinking and lived to share the tale with his children. This book propels the reader through a 3-D experience of serving aboard the Indy, her sinking, and the too familiar attempts to lay the blame on those who were targeted by the command staff. My father testified on behalf of McVay at his courts martial, and I have a carbon of the original transcript. IN HARM'S WAY is a riveting tale of honor, sacrifice, and ultimate betrayal of the American fighting man. So what else is new?
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Format: Hardcover
Like, I'm sure, most of you, I first heard of the USS Indianapolis and the horrific events surrounding its sinking in the movie Jaws. You'll recall the Robert Shaw character telling about being adrift in the waters of the Pacific as sharks circled and attacked the helpless men. This story has such a compelling fascination that it has spawned a series of books, documentaries and even a TV movie. Doug Stanton's new account can take its place with the very best of them. Drawing heavily on interviews with survivors and on Captain Charles Butler McVay's account of the sinking and the ensuing ordeal, Stanton presents the story with an immediacy and intimacy that makes it all the more terrible.
The men of the Indianapolis were the victims of an entire series of oversights and foul ups, few of their own making. First, the ship had just delivered components of the Little Boy atomic bomb (which was dropped on Hiroshima), and so had been traveling in great secrecy. Then when they set out from Guam to join up with Task Force 95 at Okinawa, they sailed alone and were not warned about known Japanese submarine activity, for security reasons. Thus, when the submarine I-58, commanded by Mochitsura Hashimoto, torpedoed them, they didn't even realize what had happened at first.
From there, unfortunate coincidence turns to bitter irony and real tragedy. Damage to the radio rooms was so great and the ship sank so fast, that they did not get a chance to radio for help. Meanwhile, again for security reasons, port authorities had been ordered not to relay messages every time a ship arrived and had interpreted the order to mean that they shouldn't report non-arrivals either.
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Format: Hardcover
In contrast to the strip of glassy smooth water that is a ship's wake, the sinking of the Indianapolis has left nothing behind but roiling emotions. Still easily brought to the surface after all these years - anger at the navy being the most common expression, and as IN HARM'S WAY shows - it is most appropriate. The 1,196 men who went into the water on the morning of July 30, 1945 were abandoned to their fate by the navy. They were left adrift for 5 days, eventually being spotted and rescued by chance; by this time only 321 were left alive, four of whom died shortly thereafter. The navy then rubbed salt into this open wound by blaming one of the survivors - Captain Charles McVay - for "hazarding" his ship.
This book is much more a story of men battling the sea and finding the courage to survive than it is a history of the war. As such it is less about the Indianapolis and its mission but more to do with personal drama of the men. It succeeds by drawing on the stories of three survivors - Captain McVay, ship's doctor Lewis Haynes, and Private Giles McCoy. The facts of the tragedy only put the achievement of survival into its proper perspective.
> The ship was sunk by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-58; the explosion killing about 300 of the crew instantly; the wounded as well as the uninjured jumped into the sea. Escaping a fiery death only brought on other dangers "from dozens of probing bacteria and organisms which, as the men drifted, began gnawing at their flesh. The salt water itself was a caustic brew...not unlike immersion in a mild acid bath."
> Perhaps as many as 200 men were eaten alive by sharks. Morning and evening were the sharks feeding times; twice a day for five days the men were preyed on.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got so engrossed in this great book, I literally read through the night, and realized at 6:00 a.m. it was getting light out. The writing is so immediate, I got a clear mental picture of the horror that was going on as these brave men endured the unimaginable. I had heard of the Indianapolis tragedy, but many have not.
When this ship failed to arrive at its destination on time, after being sunk by the Japanese, it is through a series of inexcusable snafus that no one realizes they are missing, and they have to float helplessly in rafts, while one after another, they are eaten by sharks. The author did a fantasitic job researching the entire story so many years later. He spoke at length to some heroic survivors, and their families.
This book should be must reading in school history classes. I can't recommend it enough. Just don't start reading it if you have somewhere you have to be soon. :-)
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