Book Review: Out of the Depths


Another day, another book review. I promise, I’ll soon return to writing about other things, but for now I’ll continue to wear my critic’s hat for at least one more post so I can tell you about Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell, USMC.

The book tells the story of the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis, one of the crown jewels in the U.S. Navy’s fleet during World War II. I have to admit that, despite having a grandfather who fought in WWII (and who, ironically, was from Indianapolis) and a father (his son) who taught American history, my knowledge base of World War II is fairly limited in scope. In fact, I don’t recall much teaching on the Pacific side of WWII when I was in school, aside from the bombing of Pearl Harbor; most of the teaching seemed to focus on Europe in general and Nazi Germany, specifically. (In all fairness to my high school history teacher, trying to cram 200 years of American history into one school year is a fairly daunting task; we were lucky if we got to the Vietnam War before summer.) 

Given my limited knowledge of this part of American history, I enjoyed the book from a fact-finding viewpoint, as it opened my eyes to the dramatics taking place with the Japanese in the Pacific. After being sunk by a Japanese submarine, the survivors of the Indianapolis spent five horrific days on the open water, surrounded by sharks, dealing with injuries and suffering from dehydration. Harrell, one of the survivors who was a young Marine at the time, shares his ordeal and the amazing circumstances that ultimately led to his rescue. He discusses how he and other survivors drew on their faith in God to save them and how thoughts of family and home provided hope and purpose when others were ready to give up. 

Harrell also discusses the remarkable chain of events that led to the sinking of the Indianapolis, and to the miscarriage of justice that occurred in the Navy singling out someone upon whom they could place blame for the incident. 

Some 70 years later, Harrell speaks about the Indianapolis to groups around the country and uses the incident as a platform for the message of reconciliation and trust in God. Although he still suffers the anguish of the painful memories of the sinking and the days leading up to his rescue, he finds peace in knowing that God was in control of it all. Even if you’re not a history lover, I think you’ll still appreciate the message of hope that Harrell had, a hope that is available to each of us who believe.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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