Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic


Rate: 5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (Potential Spoilers to Follow):

I was in high school the first time I experienced Jaws. Years later the scene that still stands out has the three (would be) shark hunters bonding over their various scars during a night of drinking. Quint steals the scene by delivering a spellbinding account of his experience during the disaster of USS Indianapolis. I remember being horrified to learn that this story was actually based on a true event,  while being simultaneously surprised that this was the first time I’d heard about this devastating loss. In the years since watching Jaws that scene still resonates, inspiring curiosity regarding the USS Indianapolis and the events surrounding its sinking. As such, when I stumbled across this title when perusing 2018 book releases for my annual most anticipated list I was excited to add the Indianapolis to my TBR list, fully away of how difficult this read would likely prove to be. Indianapolis is a testament to the endurance of humans put in horrifying, unimaginable situations. I’ve read many survival accounts over the years, e.g., Into Thin Air, Frozen in Time, Lost in Shangri La, The River of Doubt, In the Kingdom of Ice, The Lost City of Z, Into the Wild, 127 Hours, Alone on the Ice, however being isolated in the ocean with minimal supplies while being surrounded by sharks for a week is nigh impossible to comprehend. It is a miracle the survivors were even spotted  as the Navy didn’t even know the cruiser was missing.  The highlighted failures on so many various levels to follow up on the missing ship or pass along key intelligence regarding the location of the enemy subs amplified the suspense as Vincent and Vladic built up to the sinking and detailed suffering endured by the brave men.  The authors satisfied my analytical mind by detailing the event from many angles, including the actions of Japanese commander to the discussions taking place in mainland Japan, alongside the various actions of the United States.  Additionally, significant effort  was employed to illuminate the investigation surrounding the court martialing of Captain McVay and the movements that were still ongoing fifty years later to clear the captain’s sullied record.  I struggle to think of a recent nonfiction book that had me in tears more than Indianapolis, which is a credit to the level of detail and humanity the authors imbued the tales of the men and women who lived out these real life events. At one point, Luke came home to me crying on the couch while looking up the artwork created by one of the men who passed away during the sinking. Earl Henry had been one of my favorites throughout the read and had been so proud of the son he was never been able to meet.  At another point, I was welling up in happy tears while on the stair master at the gym when the survivors invited the Japanese sub commander’s grandchildren to not only their reunion but also encouraged them to stand among the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the survivors during the closing ceremonies. That level of forgiveness is inspiring on a level that cuts deep.  I was shocked to find out that one survivor is still living in Lansing, Michigan mere miles from where I live now, resulting in Luke and I spending one evening Googling all about him and his specific account.  Overall, the Indianapolis is a fantastic read that provides valuable insight and captures significant detail on all events surrounding this devastating chapter in Naval history.


 

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5 comments

  1. Fantastic review! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much. I was debating reading it, I wondered if it would be too dry or military for me but I’ve read so many rave reviews of it, and knowing just the outline of the story is terrifying. Thanks for such a thorough take on it!

    Liked by 1 person

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