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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Audiobook Review: In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton

in harms way
In Harms Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
by Doug Stanton
Unabridged, 8 hr. 12 min.
Audible Studios
Mark Boyett (Narrator)
September 27, 2016
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Genre: Non-Fiction, Military History

Source: Personal collection from Audible

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated three hundred men were killed upon impact; close to nine hundred sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they struggled to stay alive, battered by a savage sea and fighting off sharks, hypothermia, and dementia. By the time help arrived—nearly four days and nights later—all but 317 men had died. How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? Why was the cruiser traveling unescorted in enemy waters? And how did these 317 men manage to survive? Interweaving the stories of three survivors—the captain, the ship’s doctor, and a young marine—journalist Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless.

The definitive account of this harrowing chapter of World War II history—already a bestseller in its hardcover and mass market editions—In Harm’s Way is a classic tale of war, survival, and extraordinary courage.

I am not someone who is a huge military history buff, so the tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis was not something that had ever been on my radar before. And unlike apparently every reviewer on Goodreads, I have never seen the movie Jaws and therefore not heard the story of the Indianapolis in that film. So for me, a passing mention about it in the Pearl Harbor book I had read some months back piqued my interest to look into it a bit further and then I stumbled across In Harm’s Way. I am always drawn to stories of people in incredible situations because their bravery and ability to stare death in the face and survive absolutely inspire me and at the same time you often see some of society at its worst. These things keep me riveted time and again.

While this is a solid work of non-fiction it reads so quickly and will not for one moment lose your attention. Stanton interviewed survivors extensively and that is clear in how he brings life into the accounts of the different men in this book. While there are 3 main men whose circumstances are followed throughout the ordeal, we encounter many other men during their stories and are witnesses to how wildly different people handle traumatic events. Stanton seats you right there with the survivors, whether it is clinging to a raft while sharks circle or struggling to stave of dehydration and the draw to drink the salt water. There are LOTS of details, but they never feel overwhelming.

One thing that was clear to me while reading this book and so incredibly striking was just how many lives could have been spared horrible death at sea if a small handful of people had done their jobs to note if the U.S.S. Indianapolis had arrived in the port as expected or passed on the SOS message they had received from the ship. Instead, no one knew where they were or where they were even expected to be for DAYS until a pilot just happened to pass over their location. Then to put the whole thing on the Captain, the only one to have EVER been court martialed for their ship sinking during wartime was just unforgivable. These men survived a trying ordeal and their service let them down. This is a story that will stick with me for quite some time to come and I am very glad to have had the chance to read it.



There is good reason why this audiobook one a 2017 Audie Award for best history/biography audiobook. Mark Boyett competently handled the gravity of the situation as well as the human drama of it. He has an excellent cadence to his narration that gives the listener a perfect understanding of when a new thought is being brought forward, or just a pause in the moment. Boyett seems to typically narrate sci-fi/fantasy novels which probably helps him bring some of the figures from In Harm’s Way to life and pull at the heart-strings during the most dramatic of moments.

You can listen to a sample from the audiobook below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Doug Stanton:

Horse Soldiers
Horse Soldiers


Find Doug Stanton:
Website | Facebook

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