|In Harm's Way
The Sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
by Doug Stanton
Published by Holt Paperbacks
paperback; 368 pages
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A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster at sea -- and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived.
On July 30, 1945, after completing a top secret mission to deliver parts of the atom bomb "Little Boy," which would be dropped on Hiroshima, the battle cruiser 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 five days. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to survive, fighting off hypothermia, sharks, physical and mental exhaustion, and, finally, hallucinatory dementia. By the time rescue -- which was purely accidental -- arrived, all but 321 men had lost their lives; 4 more would die in military hospitals shortly thereafter.
The captain's subsequent and highly unusual court-martial left many questions unanswered: How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? Why was the cruiser traveling unescorted in enemy waters? And perhaps most amazing of all, how did these 317 men manage to survive?
Drawing on new material and extensive interviews with survivors, In Harm's Way relates the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis not as a history of war, but as a portrait of men battling the sea. Interweaving the stories of three survivors -- Charles Butler McVay, the captain; Lewis Haynes, the ship's doctor; and Private Giles McCoy, a young marine -- journalist 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.
"Doug Stanton has done this country a service by bringing the incredible yet almost-forgotten story of the USS Indianapolis to heart-pounding life. Do yourself a favor. Read In Harm's Way."
--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers
"For millions of people
everywhere, World War II had moments, hours, days of horror and terror.
For Captain Charles McVay and his crew, their five days in the ocean were gruesome
and terrible almost beyond description. But
through painstaking research and a brilliant use of oral history, Doug
Stanton has told the tale. He writes carefully and judiciously, with a sense of timing
and an eye for the right detail, to make this the most frightening book I've ever
"In Harm's Way is a stunning book.
The story of the USS Indianapolis is one of the most harrowing
tales of World War II -- and Doug Stanton takes you through every terrifying moment in
a vivid and utterly memorable account."
researched, powerfully-written account of a nightmare at sea, one of
poignant tragedies and injustices of World War II. I was struck
the extraordinary heroism of the marines and sailors who survived, all
remarkable because they do not see it in themselves."
"A haunting story of valor,
iniquity, and young men in peril on the sea. Once the Indianapolis
the crosshairs of the Japanese submarine I-58, In Harm's Way
impossible to put down. Doug Stanton's account of the Indy's
sinking and the
harrowing aftermath is as infuriating, mesmerizing, and heartbreaking
tale yet told of the great war in the Pacific."