Hunter Scott, an 11-year-old boy in Pensacola, Florida, was watching the movie Jaws, listening to Captain Quint tell the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis at the end of World War II. “Eleven hundred men went into the water. Very first light, the sharks come cruising. . . .” Hunter had a simple question: Was this a true story?
The story of the USS Indianapolis, the worst naval disaster in American history, is indeed true. So is the story of the shameful court-martial of the ship’s captain, shameful because the loss of the ship was not his fault, and the Navy knew it. Hunter Scott became the catalyst for the survivors’ efforts to clear their captain’s name and set the record straight. This is the story of the ship, her brave sailors, their wronged captain, and a young man’s crusade to right an old injustice.
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It's an unlikely beginning to what became a momentous, history-changing history fair project. Eleven-year-old Hunter Scott was watching Jaws one day when he first heard about the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Intrigued, he investigated further, and discovered a shocking, heartbreaking story behind what should have been a tale of heroism and patriotism. Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the Indianapolis went down in minutes, taking more than 800 sailors with it. Several hundred survived, but only after spending days in the open sea with sharks diminishing their numbers hourly. This is only the beginning of the tragedy, however. In an effort to make an example of the ship's captain, and in order to deflect blame from itself, the U.S. Navy unfairly court-martialed the captain, painfully changing the lives of all the men involved.
Basing much of his text on young Hunter Scott's research, author Pete Nelson does a fine job of presenting this story through the eyes of many of the survivors. Old and new photos allow readers to know many of the men of the ship, and personal accounts reveal the horrors of those days in the ocean--and later in the courtroom. A bittersweet ending will leave the reader pensive and deeply moved. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie CoulterAbout the Author:
Peter Nelson won the Christopher Award for Left for Dead, which is bestowed upon a novel that affirms the highest value of the human spirit. He is also the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction and has written many articles for magazines. Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York.
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