Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Out of the Depths coverMy goal in writing a review is to share what I like about a story and hopefully entice you to check it out further. I find myself having a difficult time reviewing this particular book and that is troubling.

It’s not because I didn’t like the book or find it fascinating. Quite the contrary. My difficulty is that I find I have no adequate words to convey just how deeply this story touched me and how important the messages are that are told within this story.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell and David Harrell should be required reading in every high school in the U.S. It tells a part of our history from the viewpoint of a brave man who lived through it. There are very few of Edgar Harrell’s generation left and when they are gone, we will have lost so very much that can never be regained or realized again.

Edgar Harrell served on the USS Indianapolis during World War II. He was aboard the ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in July of 1945 when it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes. The crew that survived the hit were left in the ocean with no food or water for four days. The surviving Marines risked starvation, dehydration, and hypothermia, not to mention shark attacks and the possibility the enemy could return at any time. The crew of 1,196 quickly became an estimated 900 and of that only 317 were rescued. Today there are less than 40 of those Marines who were aboard the USS Indianapolis still alive.

Harrell tells his poignant story recalling what happened prior to their fatal mission and his faith in God that carried him through those terrible hours waiting to be rescued and his continued recovery since that historic event. Only 19 at the time, Harrell attributes his survival to the power of prayer.

Harrell’s story also deals with the issue that their ship carried the materials used to assemble the two atomic bombs that were later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, Harrell touches on how the remaining crew had to lobby to help clear their captain’s name following the sinking of the ship.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is a gripping story of courage, dedication, patriotism, desire and faith. Harrell shares his thoughts on how soldiers are treated today, why he still encourages people to enlist and how his faith has helped him through his struggles and the loss of his shipmates. He also includes personal photographs to accompany the story.

This is truly a remarkable story that should never be forgotten by any generation.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell with David Harrell, Bethany House Publishers, @2014, ISBN: 978-0764212604, Hardcover, 192 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxing Sunday. If you know someone who served during World War II (or any war/conflict), give them a hug or a phone call and just say thanks for all they’ve done or doing. If you know someone who lived through World War II and didn’t serve, thank them too for their contribution to a generation that gave us so much.


  1. I remember first hearing about that ship as a kid when watching Jaws. Such a terrifying ordeal. If surviving that didn't strengthen one's faith in God, I don't know what would.
    Thanks for featuring so many Christian and faith-filled books lately, Mason.

  2. My father served in WWII and in the Navy. I'm definitely picking up this book.

    You mentioned the history that will be lost when these men are gone, but we'll lose even more than that. We'll lose a generation who believed in serving their country and who had honor, faith, and moral values. Those are so lost today.

  3. Mason - You're so right that as WWII vets (and of course veterans of other wars) leave us, so will their stories if they're not passed on. That's one of the tremendous values of well-written books and memoirs. Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. Your words expressed about the books you read are inspiring. Love your reviews. I'd like to see a post sometime on the messages you've received or lessons learned from books or stories nonfiction or fiction--those that stayed with you.

    Have a great day, my friend!

  5. the world should never forget nor forgive the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki! The biggest war crime ever!

  6. My father was a German Jew, and could never talk about war (except in the most trivial and light-hearted stories) except to say that there are no winners. And I would agree. We seem to learn very, very slowly (if at all) from the pain, the grief and the tragedies of the generations which preceded us.

  7. Mason, thanks for sharing about this book.

  8. Your reaction is similar to the one I had after reading about the nurses who were on the Philippines when the Japanese invaded. These stories touch our hearts.. I'm adding this one to my Must Read list.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.