"The worst part...wasn't the sharks, and it wasn't seeing your buddies die...It was when you realize...they've forgotten us. We can't last out here forever-- we're gonna die..."--Giles McCoy, private first-class, USMC, USS Indianapolis
On the night of July 30, 1945, the Navy cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese sub, sending 900 men into the black, churning waters of the Pacific. What happened next was a nightmarish battle for survival. Injured, adrift, clinging to each other and their waterlogged life rafts, the men watched in horror as their crewmates fell victim to catastrophic injuries, exposure, hallucinations, and relentless shark attacks. Worst of all, their last radio S.O.S. had been disregarded by the Navy as a possible prank. When help finally arrived an astonishing five days later, only 317 of the ship's crew were still alive. Meticulously researched, including eyewitness reports from USS Indianapolis survivors, In Harm's Way recounts with frightening accuracy those five harrowing days at sea, and gives readers a moving, unforgettable account of the worst naval disaster at sea in U.S. history.
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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 McNameeAbout the Author:
A former contributing editor at Esquire and Outside, Doug Stanton is now a contributing editor at Men's Journal. He received an M.F.A. from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. He lives in northern Michigan. An international bestseller, In Harm's Way has been translated into German, Japanese, Danish, and Italian, and optioned by Warner Brothers to be made into a major motion picture.
In Harm's Way was a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble.com Editor's Pick, an Amazon Historical Bestseller, and was chosen by Book magazine as "One of the ten who made it big."
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