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Abandon Ship!: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the Navy's Greatest Sea Disaster

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  609 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Sailing across the Pacific, the battle-scarred heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis had just delivered a secret cargo that would trigger the end of World War II. Heading westward, she was sunk by a Japanese submarine. In twelve minutes, some 300 men went down with her. More than 900 other spent four horrific days and five nights in the ocean with no water to drink, savaged by ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Harper Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1958)
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Nov 05, 2016 Liz rated it liked it
Interesting and pretty horrifying.
Sep 04, 2016 Nolan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nls-audio
It’s a hot July night in 1945; you’re just 10 degrees north of the equator, and the heavy cruiser on which you’re spending the final days of World War II never seems to cool down. You’re on a real high, since you’ve just made a successful delivery of some top-secret parts to a nearby island. You’ll learn in a few weeks that those parts were combined with others to make up the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. You’ll learn that, if you live, that is.

Such is the story of some 1,200 men on board th
Jun 12, 2012 Cary rated it it was amazing
OK, where do I begin? First off, the Indianapolis should have had a Destroyer escort, being since it was an older ship and did not have any submarine detection devices. People in the loop knew that enemy sub activity had been reported and verified in the very path that the Indianapolis was to take. Yet, she was not sent with an escort. That's one thing. Secondly, the other half of the debacle should never have occurred either. The men were in the water for 4 days and 5 nights, even though they s ...more
Bartholomew Timm
Nov 08, 2016 Bartholomew Timm rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
Parts of the story of the USS Indianapolis are fairly well-known because of the speech in the movie Jaws where Quint recounts that over 1000 men went into the water when it was sunk and only 316 came out - sharks took the rest. The numbers are slightly different (800-900 went into the water) and there were 321 came out - but 4 died, and 317 survived in total. By all accounts most of these died a slower and more horrible death, being in the ocean for more than four days without food or water and ...more
Jim Gallen
Oct 18, 2015 Jim Gallen rated it really liked it
“Abandon Ship” is the tragic story of the sinking of the Cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis on July 29, 1945. Tragic for its loss of life when peace was so near, for the precautions untaken, for the ordeal of sailors awaiting rescue and for the court martial that followed in its wake.

The book begins with the background of Capt. Hashimoto and his I-24 Capt. McVay and his Indianapolis and some of their key crewmen. It follows with a narrative of the sinking from both the American and Japanese perspective
Sep 01, 2016 Kenneth rated it really liked it
Very serious subject matter here, covered seriously and respectfully by Mr. Newcomb. Abandon Ship!” is about the sinking of the WWII U.S. Navy cruiser, the harrowing experience of the survivors, and their rescue, with the investigation afterwards. Her sinking led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. If you ever saw the movie “Jaws” and you remember the character Quint”- then you heard about his ship, The U.S.S. Indianapolis;
Quint: “Japanese submarine slamme
Nov 12, 2015 Declan rated it it was amazing
This month I read Abandon Ship by Richard F. Newcomb. I choose this book, because I have seen it on the book shelf of my house for a while and thought it looked interesting. This book was a reacher book and a fun book at the same time. Abandon Ship, by Richard F. Newcomb is a story about the struggle that the men aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis went through when their ship sank after delivering the atomic bomb.
A Captain by the name of Mcvay was in charge of one the Navy’s greatest vessels, the U
Apr 18, 2008 Patrick rated it liked it
Good stuff. This covers everything surrounding the delivery of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and the ship that brought it half-way around the world. After it delivered the bomb the ship, USS Indianapolis, was sunk by a Japanese sub just after 12 a.m. 1,100 men went into the water and only 300 came out. They spent close to 100 hours bobbing in the water, day and night, while the sun opened their skin during the day and they shivered at night. A good deal died at the mouths of sharks, b ...more
Trisha Cook
Abandon Ship! is the true story of the tragedy that befell the crew of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. I've decided that I am not going to write a review on this book because it made me angry to the point of actual rage. What made me angry was the miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the Navy against the Captain of the ship, Charles McVay, which lead to his suicide at the age of 77 and the total lack of accountability of the higher ups for the massive loss of life of the crew in the pacific, having sp ...more
Bill Subalusky
Oct 20, 2008 Bill Subalusky rated it it was amazing
One of the best military books I've read. Well written, without much of the military jargon that usually fogs up such a book, it's a captivating story with three elements: incrible details on what the crew experienced as the ship took a torpedoe hit and then sank; an equally detailed description of the several days the survivors spent in the shark infested waters of the Pacific, where more died than did in the sinking; and the court room proceedings and follow-up that reflect the determination o ...more
Joe Rodeck
Aug 29, 2015 Joe Rodeck rated it really liked it
The sinking of the USS Indianapolis story, professionally told.

Actually, the sinking and the rescue of survivors are all finished before the book's half over. The rest is the blame game and the court martial of ship captain Charles McVay. The latter portion may be too much stupefying military legal skullduggery for a lot of readers.

In the indispensable Afterword is the good story of how a sixth grader resurrected the case seeking a better resolution for McVay.

"The captain was the low man on th
Feb 19, 2014 Janis rated it really liked it
Abandon Ship tells the story of one of the most heartbreaking incidents in WWII, the sinking of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in the last weeks of the war, and the ordeal of the survivors, who suffered four days and five nights in the waters of the Pacific, waiting for rescue. Newcomb’s account of the ship’s top-secret voyage, the terrible incident, and the subsequent military trial is detailed and fascinating. Originally published in 1958 by the decorated WWII naval correspondent, this is ...more
Jan 15, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After looking at reviews for a number of books on the tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis I settled on this one and wanted so bad to love it. While it did give a great telling of the disaster, I found the majority of the book was about the court-martial of Captain Charles Butler McVay III (which I, too, disagree with). I really wish it would have spent more time, and went into greater detail, about the experience of the sailors in the water after the ship had sunk.

If only Quint had written a book
In July 1945 the cruiser USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Pacific. More than 900 sailors spent four days in the water, under scorching sun amidst swarms of sharks with no water or food. No rescue planes searched for them. A Navy patrol plane accidentally discovered them. Ultimately only 316 men survived. Richard Newcomb provides a well researched account of the sailors’ ordeal and the military blunder. Peter Maas’ afterword adds facts which were previously unavailable to ...more
Jan 01, 2014 Drew rated it liked it
I personally would have enjoyed this book more if it had been more about the actual story of the Indianapolis and less about the attempt to assign blame. There is no doubt that the account of the court martial afterwards, the letters if reprimand, and the new Navy regulations certainly shed light on the entire story, but personally was much more interested in the story of what happened between the time the ship was struck by torpedos and when the crewmen finally reached dry land again than the a ...more
Aug 10, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult true story of survival at sea amidst shark attacks. The USS Indianapolis had jsut finished delivering the atomic bombs to Tinian. Because of the secrecy required, not even the naval pacific fleet was aware of Indianapolis location. When sunk in a random Japanese sub attack, nobody knew where they were and the 900 survivors spent over 4 days at sea. Only 315 survived the sharks and were rescued.
Mary Jane
Mar 04, 2013 Mary Jane rated it really liked it
As an American, I felt somewhat obligated to read this account of the sinking of the Indianapolis. The actual event was horrific; the subsequent handling by the Navy was inexcusable.

It appears to me that the sinking of the ship and the 4 day aftermath can be likened to the perfect storm. So many seemingly inconsequential - and some very prominent - events had to occur for this tragedy to unfold.

I am always grateful to our servicemen and women. More so, after having read this.
Susan McDaniel
Aug 01, 2010 Susan McDaniel rated it really liked it
A gripping story from the first page to the last. As a high school English teacher, I require my students to read certain genres throughout the year. One of my students chose this book and told me he could not put it down once he started it. That fact that a high schooler would read it from beginning to end speaks volumes of the author's style and expertise as a storyteller. I would highly recommend this book.
Fascinating yet infuriating account of the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis. Too much bureaucracy killed many of these poor sailors and yet the captain was held responsible. The Navy's unwillingness to set the facts straight is a major disgrace to that esteemed organization. I highly recommend this book but it will make you very very angry (unless you happen to be related to one of the Navy brass).
Sep 24, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
This was an excellent book about a very tragic, but true story. I thoroughly enjoyed the historic information but the book was a little choppy in the factual writing of the details. I'm sure it was difficult for the author to introduce so many characters and how they were was just a little tricky to follow at points. I found myself re-reading a page or two here or there so I could better understand what exactly was going on. Great story in spite of this-
Robert Luebke
Aug 30, 2012 Robert Luebke rated it really liked it
Abandon Ship is a very interesting historical account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The mission this ship accomplished in helping end World War II and the tradegy that followed is a must read for all World War II history buffs and all Americans who honor the sacrifice these sailors endured.
Sep 25, 2012 Billy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, navy
Despite some rather clumsy prose, this was a fairly quick read. The author was apparently not fluent in naval matters, so the book is a straightforward narrative of events with little real insight into the organizational peculiarities of the Navy, especially with regards to the courts-martial and letters of reprimands that followed the disaster.
Oct 20, 2014 Jerry rated it liked it
An excellent read. It plugged a lot of holes, and answered a lot of questions I have always had. Every TV documentary I have ever seen has glossed over what was important and just concentrated on the men in the water and the sharks. Glad to see justice was finally done, even if it was too late for some.
Jaime Contreras
Oct 23, 2016 Jaime Contreras rated it really liked it
This was a riveting naval tale that actually happened during the end of WW II. The style and depth with which the author writes adds to the addiction to this thrilling but tragic book. This was a engrossing book about the survival of sailors from a sunken U.S. warship in the Pacific during the last months of the war.
Marion Hudson
Feb 25, 2015 Marion Hudson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
I admittedly picked this book up out of a clearance bin on a U.S. Base in Germany and I was captivated by the story! It is wonderful that these soldiers stories have been told through such a well written book! Their fate is heartbreaking.
Jason Thomas
Hard to swallow, probably enraging if you have loved ones who served the U.S. Navy during WWII or since. To know the truth of the matter is a duty we owe to those who sacrificed. A lesson over details of naval warship construction would be helpful in some chapters; otherwise I was entertained.
Feb 21, 2015 Camille rated it really liked it
Great book and a very interesting read into one of the great tragedies of World War II. Although this book has been around awhile, there is updated information. I reviewed in on my blog:
Monica Perez
Jan 12, 2009 Monica Perez rated it really liked it
This was one of the saddest stories I have ever read, if not the saddest. About the sinking of the uss indianapolis and the loss of over 800 men in the final days of wwII. A horrible miscarriage of justice on so many levels.
Feb 21, 2011 James rated it really liked it
I don't think this was a great book but I could not put it down either. I had always wanted to learn more about the Indianapois and I think this book did a pretty good job. Anyone who is a fan of WWII or Military History (or Jaws, yes, the one with the big shark) should read this book.
Sep 20, 2014 Gerry rated it really liked it
This book took me into WWII and kept me there - I was angry at the way the captain of this ship was treated and sorry for all involved.
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