American History USS Indianapolis The True Story Of The Greatest Us Naval Disaster by Patrick Spencer is almost what it claims to be in its rather lengthy title. There is a qualification made with the following statement “The content of this work is intended as a fictional re-enactment of true events for entertainment purposes” (p.2) so we can’t have it both ways: a “fictional reenactment” and “American History.” This is not a criticism, just an observation.
Published in November 2016, by Mouseworks Publishing, this 32-page Kindle edition is available “free” on Kindle Unlimited or at a purchase price of USD 0.99. The short work is an introduction to a little-known event in the history of WWII. The event was little known at the time due to wartime secrecy, the fact that the event happened approximately nine days before the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and possible military embarrassment over the sinking itself and subsequent reporting procedures. In an era where we are used to instant communication (Twitter) it may be difficult to appreciate one historic event being eclipsed into obscurity by a historic event occurring nine days later.
The facts presented and referenced at the end of this presentation constitute history. Spencer’s presentation of how the men acted and felt during their five days in the water, his depiction of how they must have reacted to the appearance of an increasing number of sharks over five days is gruesome entertainment. The losses of personnel and failures in US Navy accountability procedures that left the crew struggling in the ocean for five days is history. The linking of the effects on this to Captain (later Rear Admiral) McVay that later presumably led to his suicide are the sad components of what passes for entertainment to those with a sense of Schadenfreude.
Patrick Spencer writes in an interesting, readable style that presents history as if he is talking to the reader in everyday language rather than the dry recitation of statistics that sometimes passes for academic history. I look forward to reading more of his work.