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Book Review

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Doug Stanton tells the story of this disastrous voyage and the Navy's subsequent treatment of McVay in In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. Stanton had been working as a contributing editor for Esquire and Outside magazines and became interested in the Indianapolis after learning that the survivors planned to reunite. Having no military background, Stanton intended to write only a short article on the disaster;' instead, he became captivated by the survivors' accounts of bravery and survival: "For almost five days, they struggled against unbelievably harsh conditions, fighting off sharks, hypothermia, physical and mental exhaustion, and finally, hallucinatory dementia. And yet more than 300 of them managed to survive. The question I wanted to ask was, How?" The survivors wanted to clear McVay's name and lift the stigma that resulted from his conviction; Stanton took up their cause. Finally, Stanton wanted to pin the blame for the disaster on the Navy, where he felt it belonged: "[T]he [N]avy put them in harm's way, hundreds of men died violently, and then the government refused to acknowledge its culpability."'

The article became a book, and Stanton published In Harm's Way in 2001 to the universal praise of critics and history buffs. Shortly after publication, the Navy exonerated McVay, announcing that he was not culpable for the sinking or the loss of life caused by the delayed rescue.'


Doug Stanton, In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors (St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2002) (2001).

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