In Harm's Way

by Doug Stanton

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 229

Stanton's historical narrative describes the events surrounding the sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Japanese submarine torpedoes on July 30, 1945, and its aftermath. Due to Stanton's passion for historical accuracy, his painstaking research sheds light on that fateful night in the Pacific during World War II.

Stanton's book focuses upon the captain of the ship, Captain Charles McVay, and survivors of the tragedy. Initially, McVay was blamed for the destruction of the ship due to his inadequate effort to zigzag the night of the attack. McVay was eventually exonerated in 2000.

The descriptive narrative is explained in the third person through the perspectives of McVay, Marine Private Giles McCoy, and the ship's surgeon, Lewis Haynes. Stanton was able to share the viewpoints of McCoy and Haynes because he interviewed them. Sadly, he did not have the same opportunity with McVay, because the captain committed suicide in 1968. However, other survivors who talked with Stanton provided insight into McVay. In amazing detail, Stanton recounts the tales of the attack, as well as the survival of crewmen in the water who battled hypothermia, dehydration, horrific injuries, shark attacks, and the fear of death for several days while awaiting rescue.

Through eighteen months of extensive interviews with survivors, Stanton is able to provide incredible insight into the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the survival of 317 crewmen, and the years afterwards, as US Navy investigations continued.

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