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Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

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“Gripping….This yarn has it all.” —USA TODAY

“Simply outstanding.… Sea battles, adventures, the secret mission to deliver materials for the assemblage of the atomic bomb to the Pacific Islands, tragedy, disaster, an epic ordeal—sharks included—in the open ocean, courtroom drama, political intrigue, and the uphill battle by the band of survivors to exonerate the ship’s captain will all have readers unable to put this book down…. A tour de force of true human drama….

A must-read.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Enthralling, thrillerlike."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A wonderful book….It is a gripping and engaging tale that features grievous mistakes, extraordinary courage, unimaginable horror, and a cover-up. . . . Vincent and Vladic spent years talking to the dwindling band of survivors and giving voice to their stories....This exhaustive and comprehensive assessment is as complete an account of this tragic tale as we are likely to have. It is compelling history.”” —Christian Science Monitor

“Simultaneously a gripping narrative, a convincing analysis, and a pitiless exposure of institutional mendacity….

This exposé will be valuable for scholars and general readers alike.” —Publishers Weekly

"With diligent reporting and sharp writing, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic have accomplished a daunting chore facing writers of historic nonfiction: take a story whose outline is known to the public and craft an account that is compelling yet comprehensive.... vividly detailed." —Los Angeles Times

"Their tale has almost everything. There’s a secret mission, an honorable enemy and a scapegoated captain. There’s madmen, heroes and cannibals. There’s enough in this tale for several movies.”—U-T SAN DIEGO

 “Valuable and illuminating. Vladic and Vincent’s work brings to life the history of this valorous and extraordinary ship.”—Doug Stanton, # 1 New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers

“Vincent and Vladic have rendered this long-overdue story in a way few writers of narrative nonfiction could ever achieve. They are consummate storytellers, and their research is impeccable, including accounts not only from the sailors and officers who survived, but also from the Japanese kamikaze and submarine commanders who were there. The authors reveal all that is good and all that is bad about humanity: the destruction and the courage, the selfishness and selflessness, and ultimately the shared respect and dignity of those who were once enemies. Few other books will satisfy a reader’s longing for a true and truly great story more than Indianapolis.”
—Gary Kinder, New York Times bestselling author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea

“This is an absorbing book. The attention to detail is superb, the clear result of lots of plain hard work. Yet the detail doesn’t get in the way, but rather serves, along with a driving narrative, to get the reader as close to experiencing this most tragic episode of World War II as is possible without living through it.”
—Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of Matterhorn

“This is a brilliant, highly readable, and ultimately groundbreaking account of a proud ship’s life and times, not simply a rendering of her tragic ending. Absolutely superb.”
—James Stavridis, U.S. Navy Admiral (Ret.), Supreme Allied Commander at NATO (2009-2013), and Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

“The voices of the Greatest Generation come alive in Indianapolis. Through first-person accounts we hear horrific stories of fear, pain, and anger but also of resilience, hope, and courage. Stories of the friendships the sailors forged with each other on board and the sacrifices they made for each other in their darkest hours are inspirational. Ultimately, Indianapolis is about the sacrifice these men made for our country at a time of unparalleled risk and of their lifelong search for justice for the captain of their ship. It’s a beautifully told and incredibly detailed narrative that brings this famous disaster to life.”

—Kate Andersen Brower, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Residence and First Women

In INDIANAPOLIS: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man (Paperback; on sale May 21, 2019) authors Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic draw upon years of original research and extensive interviews to unearth vivid, raw details that turn a distant WWII tale into an urgent, heart-stopping drama. The result is a “gripping, thrillerlike” (Kirkus Reviews) work of popular history that debuted in hardcover at No. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list and earned extensive praise.

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, the USS Indianapolis –the flagship of the WWII Pacific fleet – is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.

Because of meticulous research and survivor relationships cultivated over the last 17 years, Vincent and Vladic are able to take the reader into the action like never before. They give a visceral, heart-rending, moment-by-moment account of the chaos on board the sinking ship and the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the sea. They reveal the untold stories of the crew left adrift for five days in the Philippine Sea, as terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, as well as those of the heroic rescuers, many of whom were only teenagers. Vincent and Vladic also chronicle the top-secret mission by an Army spy to shepherd the core of the first atomic bomb, Little Boy, aboard the Indianapolis; and the hidden history of the Top Secret ULTRA program that could have saved the ship.

Finally, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to tell the story of the Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ 50-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking and later commits suicide.

A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love—unfolding against the larger war and the historic actions of titans of the era—INDIANAPOLIS stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative. It is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history.


Lynn Vincent, a US Navy veteran, is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and coauthor of eleven nonfiction books with more than sixteen million copies in print. Her best-known titles are Same of Kind of Different as Me (with Ron Hall and Denver Moore) and Heaven Is for Real (with Todd Burpo). A veteran journalist and author of more than 1,000 articles, her investigative pieces have been cited before Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. She lives in the mountains east of San Diego with her husband and their three Labrador retrievers.

Sara Vladic, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, is one of the world’s leading experts on the USS Indianapolis, having become obsessed with the story at the age of thirteen. Over the next two decades, Vladic met and interviewed 108 of the ship’s survivors, and in 2016 she released an award-winning documentary film on the disaster, USS Indianapolis: The Legacy. She has published new research on Indianapolis in Proceedings, the official journal of the US Navy, and appeared as an expert commentator on PBS’s USS Indianapolis: Live from the Deep, which explored the ship’s wreckage. She and her husband, Ben, live in San Marcos, California.

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