Abandon Ship!

Book Review



Abandon Ship!


Richard F. Newcomb


HarperCollins  Publishers Inc., New York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2001


In the final days of World War II, one of the worst  disasters in United States naval history occurred. Originally published in 1958,  this new edition tells the horrific tale of the USS Indianapolis sinking and  includes newly written forward and epilog sections by Peter Maas.

Get more information at Amazon.comThe  USS Indianapolis was a Navy cruiser tasked in July 1945 with delivery to the  island of Tinian of the nuclear weapon that was to be dropped on Hiroshima.  At roughly the same time as they started their mission, the Japanese submarine  I-58 left harbor for its final patrol of the war. These two ships had a rendezvous  with destiny that only one would survive.

Denied the use of an escort destroyer, not told about  Japanese submarine sightings along their route, and sailing in a vessel with  no submarine detection gear, the Indianapolis fell prey on her return voyage  from Tinian to several torpedoes from the I-58 and sank in only minutes. Although almost 1,000 of her crew were left in the water, by the time they were rescued there were only several hundred remaining.

What followed was a witch-hunt to place the blame  on the most convenient scapegoats, including the captain of the Indianapolis, Captain McVay. Several different findings were made in the case, many of which  were later reversed or retracted, yet the reputation of the accused was ruined  in the eyes of the public. Some of these innocent men chose to fight the charges, while others were resigned to take the blame. In the end, years went by with continuing denials of a cover-up by the Navy Department.

This book documents the actual sinking and the web of deception that followed. It critically reviews the culpability of the accused and attempts to determine where the blame should rest. The newly added epilog covers the period of time from when the book was first published through October 2000. It includes new information from recently declassified documents that  supports many of the conclusions reached by the author in the original edition.

For those unfamiliar with the Indianapolis story,  Abandon Ship! will keep you glued to your chair from beginning to end. It is a classic tale of planning gone awry during the chaos of war. It also recounts the bravery of the crew as they fought for survival against all odds. The epilog contains much new material and further debunks the cover-up that took over fifty  years to fully unravel.

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