In the final days of World War II, a Navy heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Indianapolis, after having delivered a top-secret cargo -- even the captain didn't know what it was -- to the island of Tinian in the western Pacific is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. About 300 men go down with the ship. Nine hundred more, in life-jackets and rafts, await rescue that doesn't seem to come. In fact, no one is even looking for them until those still alive are accidentally spotted -- four horrific days and five nights after the ship had sunk. Originally published in 1958, Abandon Ship! was the first book to describe, in vivid detail, how the survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis watched their shipmates fall prey to shark attacks, dehydration, exposure, and death. It was also the first book to examine the role the U.S. Navy played in this disaster and to question why the unwitting captain, Charles McVay, was courtmartialed.
In the two essays written especially for this edition of Abandon Ship!, Peter Maas, the bestselling author of, most recently, The Terrible Hours, discusses the impact of Abandon Ship! on the lives of the survivors and how it led to the nationwide effort to rehabilitate Captain McVay.