A human drama unlike any other—the riveting and definitive full story of the worst sea disaster in United States naval history.
Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the Philippine Sea when she is sunk by two Japanese torpedoes. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, nearly nine hundred men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.
For the first time Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, her crew, and their final mission to save one of their own in “a wonderful book...that features grievous mistakes, extraordinary courage, unimaginable horror, and a cover-up...as complete an account of this tragic tale as we are likely to have” (The Christian Science Monitor). It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and continues through World War II, when the ship embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima.
“Simply outstanding...Indianapolis is a must-read...a tour de force of true human drama” (Booklist, starred review) that goes beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking. “Enthralling...A gripping study of the greatest sea disaster in the history of the US Navy and its aftermath” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life. “Vincent and Vladic have delivered an account that stands out through its crisp writing and superb research...Indianapolis is sure to hold its own for a long time” (USA TODAY).
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Sara Vladic, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, is one of the world’s leading experts on the USS Indianapolis, having become obsessed with the story at the age of thirteen. Over the next two decades, Vladic met and interviewed 108 of the ship’s survivors, and in 2016 she released an award-winning documentary film on the disaster, USS Indianapolis: The Legacy. She has published new research on Indianapolis in Proceedings, the official journal of the US Navy, and appeared as an expert commentator on PBS’s USS Indianapolis: Live from the Deep, which explored the ship’s wreckage. She and her husband, Ben, live in San Marcos, California.
Read an Excerpt
SHE WAS BORN FROM soil as American as the men who sailed her. Ore mined near the Great Lakes and in the Tennessee Valley. Transported by barge and train to steel mills in Detroit and Pittsburgh. Machined and welded and hammered together in Camden, New Jersey, by tradesmen from across the forty-eight states. From her keel—forged red-hot and laid in 1930—she rose amid clang and clamor and showering sparks, unfolding bow to stern in 147 bands of high-strength steel, her superstructure climbing toward the sun until, in 1932, she parted water for the first time and was christened USS Indianapolis.
Indy was grand but svelte. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made her his ship of state and invited world leaders and royalty to dance under the stars on her polished teak decks. When war came, many of the sailors she carried into battle were still teenagers. They slept in bunks three high, went to chapel on Sunday mornings, and shot dice on the fantail on Sunday afternoons. They danced to Glenn Miller and sang along with the Andrews Sisters. They referred to Indy as their first love and the Queen. At least one of their wives called her “the other woman.”
Indianapolis was the flagship of the World War II Pacific fleet—the largest naval fleet in the history of the modern world. Along her centerline she carried three 250-ton turrets, each hefting three eight-inch guns that could reach out eighteen miles to rake beaches, destroy pillboxes, and punch through the armor of enemy ships. Her hull bristled with two dozen 40 mm Bofors guns, some radar-aimed for lethal precision, along with thirty-two machine guns that could cloak a mile-wide circle around her in a hail of 20 mm rounds. From her decks, Fifth Fleet commander Admiral Raymond Spruance would build an island bridge that stretched west from Pearl Harbor to Japan and was mortared in the blood of nations.
By the summer of 1945, the Pacific war was churning toward its fiery climax. A new weapon had been born, a “destroyer of worlds.” During the last week of July, under the command of Captain Charles B. McVay III, Indianapolis delivered the core of this weapon to its launch point, completing the most highly classified naval mission of the war. Four days later, just after midnight, a Japanese submarine spotted Indy and struck her with two torpedoes. Three hundred men went down with the ship. As Indy sank into the yawning underwater canyons of the Philippine Sea, nearly nine hundred men made it into the water alive. Only 316 survived.
The sinking of Indianapolis was the greatest sea disaster in the history of the American Navy. It was also a national scandal that would bridge two centuries. There would be a controversial court-martial. An enemy witness. Lies and machinations by men of high rank. Broken lives. Suicides.
Decade after decade, the survivors would fight for their captain, battling to correct a vulgar injustice. As Indy’s story rolled forward, spanning thirteen presidents, from FDR to George W. Bush, it would inspire a filmmaker named Spielberg, an eleven-year-old boy named Hunter Scott, a maverick lawmaker named Bob Smith, and Captain William Toti, skipper of her namesake submarine. Men fought over her for decades, and no victor emerged for fifty years.
Indianapolis is a war grave now. But don’t think of her that way. Roll the film backward. Watch her rise.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Ship 1
Book 1 The Kamikaze 3
Book 2 The Mission 87
Book 3 The Deep 183
Book 4 Trial and Scandal 295
Book 5 An Innocent Man 395
Final Log Entry: August 19, 2017 441
Final Sailing List 449
Appendix A Rescue Ships 465
Appendix B Journey with Indianapolis 467