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In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors Mass Market Paperback – May 19, 2002
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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 the Library Binding edition.
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 the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a shame what happened to this ship and the sailors aboard. It is also a shame what the Navy did to Captain Charles Butler McVay and others that they tried to place the blame on.
It is so sad that this courageous captain took his life. I salute this honorable man.
It is a miracle at any of these brave mean survived and lived to tell about the horror they went through. I am sure God was with the survivors and wanted the world to know what had happened.
Yes, this is a riveting book and definitely a page turner.
Jeannie Walker (Award-Winning Author) "I Saw the Light" - A True Story of a Near-Death Experience
The MP3 Audio CD is also fantastic. It comes with 15 tracks that range between around 15 to 25 minutes. (there is a 16th track less than a minute long at the end with legal information). The MP3 CD format made it very easy for me to rip the files off of the CD, and save the files to my File Server before uploading the audiobook to my podcast player of choice. I prefer to do this instead of using an audio book service because it means that I have control over what player I use to play the files. I had no issues with this CD, and the story comes broken in to nice sized chunks, unlike some books that come in hundreds of five minute long files.
I really enjoyed the narration on this story as well. I think the narrator did a fantastic job.
Drawing on the testimonies of the survivors, particularly Private Giles McCoy, ship's doctor Lewis Haynes, and ship's captain Charles McVay, author Doug Stanton tells the story of the crew's ordeal. Covered in oil - many of them having swallowed some of it - and floating in harsh saltwater for days, the men had few options as they drifted further apart. Many who were injured were the first to die. Others went crazy and drowned themselves or turned on one another. And then there were the sharks, circling all day long and attacking at dusk and dawn. It was estimated that 200 men were killed by the hungry predators. In the end, only 317 survived.
But the real tragedy was the missed opportunities when they might have been rescued. The last minute SOS message sent as the ship sank was disregarded and search ships called back. The Indy's failure to show up at the expected time didn't provoke any response from the Navy in the Philippines, either. Even after their rescue, additional indignity was heaped upon them as the Navy court-martialed Captain McVay, despite evidence that he had acted prudently (even the Japanese submarine commander testified that there was nothing the Indy could have done to avoid being sunk!). None of those who failed to act upon reports of the missing ship received so much as a meaningful reprimand.
This is the kind of story you read, not because it has a happy ending or displays American perseverance in the face of adversity, but because of the sacrifice that has been made to preserve the liberties we take for granted.