Indianapolis : the true story of the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history and the fifty-year fight to exonerate an innocent man by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic
Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 5 stars
I have been fascinated by the story of the Indianapolis for as long as I can remember. I don't know why; it is possible it's from seeing my father, a former navy man, devour books on naval disasters. Most likely Quinn's monologue on his experience in the water after the Indianapolis sank in the movie Jaws is what drew me in. Needless to say, when Indianapolis was released, I immediately ran out for a copy.
For those who are not familiar with the story, the USS Indianapolis was carrying components of the atomic bomb known as "Little Man" and a crew of 1200. After delivery, the ship was bombed by 2 Japanese torpedoes. Almost 900 men went into the shark infested waters. It took 5 days for them to be rescued. Only 316 survived. The captain was court marshaled, despite the events being more of a result of Navy incompetence than his errors, and his life was made a living hell.
This book describes the events leading up to and after the sinking of the Indianapolis but it's much more than that; it is a tale of bravery, heroism, the fight for survival, but also the battle to clear the name of a wronged man. Vincent and Vladic tirelessly piece together new information in their retelling of the experiences of both the crew and their families. It's not just the story of the worst sea disaster in U.S. History; it's the story of their lives afterward. What results is a riveting, hopeful, and also devastating portrait of survival. Indianapolis reads like a novel, which allows the reader to easily absorb the more technical details.
This is a phenomenally well written book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in American history.