What do you think?
Rate this book
592 pages, Hardcover
First published July 10, 2018
Indianapolis was designed in 1930 with a single “through deck” along wich one could pass from bow to stern without having to climb up and down ladders and make a circuitous route using multiple decks. This design made it impractical to operate completely buttoned up, with maximum watertight integrity – a condition known as “Material Condition Affirm” – since the ordinary duties of sailing necessitated free movement of personnel up and down the length of the ship. Further, Condition Affirm would shut off all ventilation to interior spaces. On a ship without air-conditioning operating in the steamy South Pacific, that could kill a crew as quickly as the enemy.
[A]ll the seawater drinkers died painful deaths. A lack of fluid intake increased salt levels in their bodies, triggering the natural response of greater thirst. When they took in no fluid to decrease the salt levels, water rushed out from their cells to do the job. Brain cells tore loose from their rightful locations, impairing judgment just enough to cause the men to seek poisonous release. Thirst begged their hands to administer water to dilute the salt that was poisoning their bodies. They obliged with seawater, introducing more salt and increasing their thirst to the point of mindless lust. Blood vessels tore and fluid built up in the brain, causing seizures and insanity. They vomited and foamed at the mouth. Some died of kidney failure. Others’ brains short-circuited violently, as when a tree branch hits a high voltage power line.
From THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, 1798: "Water, water everywhere, And all the boards did shrink, Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink."
U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS - She was an old girl....just back from repairs after sustaining grave damage from a 1944 kamikaze suicide attack....now, with a new (very) young and inexperienced crew....now, an unescorted, unprotected cruiser (useless against subs) was on the way back from a new mission....a highly classified special mission....having delivered a mysterious secret cargo....the components for Little Boy.
It's July 30, 1945 just after midnight....Captain Charles B. McVay is 47 today; and submarine commander Hashimoto cannot believe his luck as a bit of moon peeks out from the clouds. He can now see a black shape, he dives....and slams two torpedoes into the unsuspecting INDIANAPOLIS. Destruction is catastrophic and chaos ensues aboard Indy; many die upon impact, others are severely burned or wounded. The order is given to Abandon Ship!
In the water with the constant swells of the Philippine Sea, the men are spread out over great distances, but some join together in circular groups. Shark attacks, screams of pain, fear of no rescue, dehydration and few rations lead to dissension among the men. Some drink seawater causing hallucinations, swollen tongues and painful death. Madness turns to fights, blood, more sharks and unspeakable acts, but there are also times of camaraderie, group prayer and heroism.
Even with Indy overdue, the rescue of the remaining 316 of 879 was indeed fortuitous as there was much incompetence and outright stupidity by navy personnel; and after a farce of a court martial and tortured life for McVay, (OMG the phone calls and letters) survivor's were so outraged that together, with the help of eighth grader Hunter Scott and William Toti (Captain of a modern day sub, Indianapolis) they worked tirelessly to clear his name.
"It is not right for one man to bear all the blame for the mistakes of so many others."
In 2017, 72 years later, explorers got their first look at INDIANAPOLIS wreckage 3.5 miles below the surface....an amazing find. (don't know how I missed this news )
The well-researched INDIANPOLIS reads like a novel and Lynn Vincent does a superb job of giving the reader a personalized view of crew members and their loved ones as well as providing illustrations of the ship, rescue operations, and survival groups in the water that lead us all the way to a well-deserved posthumous exoneration for Captain McVay.
So much information here....so well-written....Highly Recommend!
Charles B. McVay, III - July 30, 1898 - November 6, 1968.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for the arc COMING JULY 10, 2017 in exchange for an unbiased review.
UPDATE - July 20, 2018 - Watched the 2016 USS INDIANAPOLIS movie. (available on Netflix). Compared to the book, very disappointing. Expected more and poor acting (Nicholas Cage not a fav. of mine) put me off, and for a two plus hour flick, it seemed rushed. Did get to see those horrid life boats though....Good Lord!....and a bit of the rescue operation. 3 low stars for the movie.