In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
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In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  6,939 ratings  ·  425 reviews
Now available for the first time in trade paperback, the bestselling account of America's worst naval disaster--and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated three hundred men were killed upon impact; close to nine hundred sailors were cast into th...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Matt
Japanese torpedo slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. Just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for half an hour...Sometimes that shark looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And you know the thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya he doesn't seem to be living...until he...more
Timothy
“Very first light, Chief…sharks come cruisin'.”



Can you name that movie? Yep, you and everybody else guessed it: the 1975 classic Jaws. I’d argue that the majority of those from every generation since the 1970’s to present first learned of the USS Indianapolis and her crew’s fate through this film alone; I did when I first saw it at about six or seven years of age and to be perfectly honest the story scared the living shit out of me cuz unlike the fictional motion picture, it really happened. N...more
Shaun
OMG...Goosebumps. REALLY!

After delivering the last component of the A-bomb, the USS Indianapolis (carrying a crew of almost 1,200) is torpedoed. Within 12 minutes, an estimated 300 men have been killed, 900 have been forced into the oil-slicked, shark-infested sea, the ship has been sunk, and the first in a long line of oversights will guarantee the US navy is totally unaware of the ships fate until it is too late for more than 2/3 of displaced men.

This story, competently told by Doug Stanton, s...more
Kat Hagedorn
http://tinyurl.com/3lro2y3

I finished this in less than 2 days. I think that's a record for a 250+ page book.

Valid criticisms of this book might include that it reads a bit like death porn, knowing as we do the ending, but those criticisms would have missed the boat (or ship, as it were). As Stanton himself explains in an afterword, his ultimate goal in writing this story was to explore the survivors: their ordeal, their suffering, their lives post-Indianapolis. How do you survive something like...more
Michael
Jan 26, 2012 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
I would guess that many people only know the story of the USS Indianapolis from the movie 'Jaws' and the story that Quint told in the one scene. This is a story from history that should be known by all Americans. It is a tale of utter despair and the depths to which humans can descend when placed in the worst situation possible.

I had read about and seen television programs about the Indianapolis but I learned a lot more about it than ever before. Doug Stanton did an excellent job of getting the...more
Nate
Like About Face and the Pat Tillman story, this book leaves one highly disillusioned. I know I should praise the heroism of the survivors of this horrific tragedy (and that is a given), but my primary reaction to this book was actually one of disgust and great cynicism concerning the US military. At every step of the way the USS Indianapolis was exploited - in the mad rush to get the atomic bomb over to Japan she was rushed through maintenance repairs, upon arrival in the Pacific her captain was...more
Michael Twist
I’ve long contended that one of the greatest scenes in all of movies entails the bonding that took place in Jaws between Brody, Hooper, and Quint as the latter recounted the horror of awaiting rescue in shark infested waters after the USS Indianapolis had been sunk in the South Pacific just days before the end of the second World War. Spielberg’s ability to ratchet tension was a product of our understanding that the account was based on a true event as well as the inherent fear we all have of sh...more
Nola
Oct 30, 2013 Nola rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs, WWII buffs, someone interested in the past
Recommended to Nola by: Found at a booksale
Most nonfiction books, I've found, tend towards being dry and overly academic. Historical ones in particular have never managed to hold my attention for very long. Yet, as I read Doug Stanton's In Harm's Way, I found myself drawn into the story, connecting with and grieving for the men onboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis. I also found myself frequently shouting insults at the Navy's handling of the situation. And, although I am a fast reader, this is certainly one of the fastest times I've ever cloc...more
Barb
I was not educated on the story of the USS Indianapolis. I am haunted by what the men on this ship experienced; and how senseless their misery was, waiting for rescue. A series of mistakes caused this ship to be "lost", meaning nobody missed it after it sunk. Reading about how some took leadership roles, and so many would not give up. The author touched on this when he realized the survivors all shared a deep held belief that they were not going to give up. Have I left an impression on the peopl...more
Mollie
In Harm’s Way is a very vivid and detailed telling of the fate of the USS Indianapolis, which was torpedoed by the Japanese in the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, leaving the survivors stranded and drifting on the sea for days. The homecoming of the survivors was marred by the court-martial of their Captain in what the author portrays as a real miscarriage of justice; furthermore, the announcement of the end of the war just two weeks after they were rescued sidelined the survivors’ tragic sto...more
Diane
Here's a true story that beats the heck out of any fictional thriller. Anyone who's seen the original "Jaws" movie remembers Quint's desciption of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. While Quint's numbers may have been different, the description held: 1,196 men went into the water, 321 came out; sharks got the rest.

In Harm's Way gives the back story and the epilogue, the lives of the men who went onto the ship, their mission, the mistakes that led to delays in looking for them, the court marti...more
Doug Clemens
Wow! This book starts off with a bang and the story goes from there. I had never heard of the USS Indianapolis and so this was a great story for me to read. It played an important role in the war and also revealed a lot about our Navy operations. Three things that struck me were the unbelievable conditions endured by the survivors, the incompetence of the Navy in not noticing the ship was missing, and the inexcusable assignment of blame to captain of the ship. It was sad for me to see someone so...more
Mike Wolstat
I guess I never really needed to know what it was like to drift for days in the open ocean without a boat, but there are very few more vivid scenes that I suppose I'll ever read about. There is something in the discovery of the extremes of human endurance that I find inspiring and I was in tears at the end of this when the survivors were being plucked from the water.

This book also goes a long way to exonerate the captain of the ship, who was subsequently court-martialed, something that the survi...more
Todd
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distre...more
Craig Stratton
Remember the scene in "Jaws" where Quince tells Brody and Richard Dryfus about his experience in the Navy when his destroyer was sunk in the Pacific and the crew was hunted by sharks for 2 days before rescue? This is the book about that ship and crew. It is extremely terrifying, especially since it is a true story. The crew's encounter with sharks is only about 40% of their dangers as they cling to life waiting for help. Great book.
Bruce
Well researched and well-written account of the unimaginable ordeal suffered by the crew of the cruiser that delivered the components for the Hiroshima bomb. 5 out of every 6 men on the ship died, most while floating in the Philippine Sea for five days and five nights with the sharks. The court-martialed captain was vindicated decades after his suicide. Great read for any fans of the Navy in WWII.
Allison
Astounding account of a truly horrifying experience. I agree with Stephen Ambrose in that it's probably the scariest book I have ever read and probably will ever read. And not for the reasons one might imagine. It's the horrific things that can occur when humans are placed into the most trying of circumstances. I'm really at a loss to describe this book, but insist that everyone should read it.
Tom
A quick read that keeps the action moving at a brisk pace. Like most I assume, I was inclined to read this based on Quint's monologue from Jaws (and even though many of his facts were totally wrong, I find that bit no less entertaining).

It's just about as bad a situation as you can imagine. When the crew abandoned ship, in most cases they swallowed a bunch of seawater and oil and spent several hours vomiting it up. That was the least bad thing that happened to them. Sharks bit them in half. Deh...more
Bonnie_blu
Horrifying and terrifying account of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis in WW II. Approximately 300 men went down with the ship, while the remaining 900 ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Of the 900, 584 died from shark attacks and exposure. It is almost incompressible to me how the 316 who ultimately survived could have done so. It is a true testament to their courage and their determination to live and of course, the fact that they were lucky not to have been attacked by sharks. Unfortunately,...more
Dachokie
Excellent Summary of a Truly Chilling and Forgotten Story ..., December 19, 2010

It is an odd and sad testament that THE most significant disaster in American naval history has received so little attention for so long. Maybe the demise of the USS Indianapolis belongs in the same category as "Operation Tiger" (the D-Day rehearsal off the English shore disrupted by German E-boats resulting in some 750 American dead) by being a failed subchapter of a more significant, but secretive bigger mission (d...more
AJ
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seth
Another book not to read when you are stressed. This is the story of the ship that took the A-bomb over to Japan. Their mission was so secret that nobody realized when they didn't report back on time (the ship had been sunk by a Japanese sub on the way back). Those who survived the initial sinking were in for a few days of hell. With few exceptions, everyone was floating in life jackets that began losing their buoyancy after a few days. Their top halves baked in the sun while their bottom halves...more
Michael
I have had an interest in this event since the first time I saw the movie Jaws in 1976.(yes, my parents took a 6 year old to see Jaws. I didn't swim in the ocean until I was 16). My review is pretty simple. Great story. Extremely well written and researched. The book flows perfectly through the events without a lot of unnecessary info or wandering off the subject. All around: it deserves the great ratings and reviews it receives. I just spent the last 7 hours finishing it. I couldn't put it down...more
Brian
This was an extremely informative and interesting book. It told about how the USS Indianapolis was sunk, but really focused on the 300+ survivors (out of a total crew of 1197) and what things were like for them while they waited for rescue. It was difficult at times to read about all of their trials (without food and water for 4+ days, eluding all of the sharks, hypothermia despite the warm waters of the South Pacific Ocean, delusions and confusion resulting from dehydration and malnourishment,...more
Brandon
In Harm's Way is a great account of the USS Indianapolis, a battleship that transported the bomb that hit Hiroshima. However, the book is not about that, it is about what happened after the transport. After being attacked by a Japanese Sub, the crew had to survive in the Pacific Ocean with sharks for many days.

This book was fantastic. It was a quick read and read more like a story than a textbook. As the crew was trying to survive, you could really feel the pain they were going through. Many tim...more
Lesblick17
It's amazing more people don't know about this ship and its demise. This is the incredible story of the USS Indianapolis (the ship that carried the atom bomb to the Pacific), which was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. I am not a huge history buff, but the story of how the thousands of crew struggled to survive in the shark-infested waters is horrifying and fascinating. Equally horrifying is how the US military ignored all of the signs that the ship was in trouble, and then did their b...more
Hannah
This is the fascinating and haunting story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis near the end of WWII. This book takes you from the men boarding the USS Indianapolis all the way to the end of the mens' lives. The descriptions of the experience these men had during the torpedoeing; floating in the ocean for 4+ days; encountering sharks, death, and carnage everywhere; etc. is quite vivid and disturbing at times, but always sobering. I highly recommend this book, for age 17-18+(if not sensitive)
Inklination
Concise but detailed, it is apparent how much time the author spent talking to the survivors. The author tells the story of how a series of misjudgements on the part of the Navy led to the sinking and how further mistakes and procedural miscues meant Indianapolis's men had to survive for four and a half days before rescue arrived.

Most know of the USS Indianapolis through the movie "Jaws" and the character Quint's story of hell. The author fills in the truth behind the deeply affecting tale, mak...more
Missie
Nov 12, 2010 Missie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I love to learn about history through these type of personal accounts. This story took me through a whole range of emotions from happiness, anger, sadness, disbelief and pride. I find that miscommunication seems to be one of the most common factors in some of the most tragic military stories. I am proud of our military men and women and I hope that everyday we become better at communicating with one another for so many different reasons!
Andrew A
I thought this book was good. For me, the book started off slow and I didn’t want to finish the book. Although I didn’t want to keep reading, I stuck with the book and ended up really liking it. When the ship was hit by the missiles, the book began to escalate rapidly. The details from that moment on were very descriptive and allowed any reader to paint a picture in their minds as there reading in the book. The book was very interesting, especially because I sometimes would wonder myself if they...more
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Doug Stanton lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and has worked as a creative writing and English teacher at college level, and at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan as writer-in-residence.

He has also worked as a commercial fisherman, and caretaker of Robert Frost's house in Vermont. He has travelled extensively as a contributing editor for Esquire, Men's Journal and Outside magazines, writing tr...more
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“Where does a man go when there are no more corners to turn, when he's running out of hope, out of luck, out of time?” 3 likes
“McCoy, drained and hollow-eyed, couldn't take his eyes off the life vest belonging to the boy who'd slipped away from the group during the night. The empty vest spooked McCoy. All its straps were still tightly tied-it looked like some trick that Houdini might've played. Then McCoy peered into the water and got another shock: the boy was floating below him, spread-eagled, about fifteen feet below the surface. He lay motionless until a current caught him; then it was as if he were flying in the depths. Jesus, McCoy thought, Mother of God. He started saying the rosary over and over. McCoy had never been overly religious; his mom was the spiritual one in the family. But now he began the process of what he'd later call his purification; he'd started asking God to forgive him of his sins. He was resolved to live but he was getting ready to die.” 1 likes
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