Book Review: Out of the Depths

Usually when I review books I choose ridiculous rom-coms [yes, that’s a book genre too]. This time, the subject is a bit more serious: World War II, the sinking of a ship, and survival at sea, in the spirit of Unbroken and Louie Zamperini’s story. I was sent a complimentary copy of Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell USMC with David Harrell as part of Bethany House Publishers‘ book review program.

Out of the Depths Book Review |

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

July 30, 1945—The USS Indianapolis and its 1,196-man crew is making its way toward a small island in the South Pacific. The ship is sailing unescorted, assured by headquarters the waters are safe. It is midnight, and Marine Edgar Harrell and several others have sacked out on deck rather than spend the night in their hot and muggy quarters below. Fresh off a top-secret mission to deliver uranium for the atomic bombs that would ultimately end World War II, they are unaware their ship is being watched. Minutes later, six torpedoes are slicing toward the Indy . . .

For five horrifying days and nights after their ship went down, Harrell and his shipmates had to fend for themselves in the open seas. Plagued by dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks, their numbers were cruelly depleted before they were miraculously rescued. This is one man’s story of courage, ingenuity, and faith in God’s providence in the midst of the worst naval disaster in U.S. history.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I read Unbroken a few years ago and loved it. If you loved it too, Out of the Depths is for you. It’s equally inspiring and moving. The author credits his survival on the open seas to God and his story of faithfulness is apparant in the pages of this book.
  • Throughout the book I was just amazed at all the author and his fellow shipmates endured. It’s a hard to story to read–both in terms of war details [about the atomic bombs in Japan] and the horrific conditions the sailors endured on the water. But it’s an important one that I enjoyed learning about.
  • Being from Indiana, I was surprised that the story of the USS Indianapolis isn’t taught in schools. But I did learn that there’s a memorial in Indianapolis that I’d love to visit next time I’m there. I shouldn’t be surprised though, because many of the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the ship was kept hidden until the late 1990s.
  • For the most part, I enjoyed the way this book was written: focusing in detail about each day. The story was told in enough detail to be compelling but not too much to be boring. But parts of it felt forced and too much like a history book and too little like a personal account. That’s just a minor complaint though.
  • Overall, the book was excellent. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in World War II history. It was neat reading the epilogue and learning the author lives in the Nashville area! 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Out of the Depths”

    1. i know, isn’t that funny? i’m sure they didn’t do that on purpose (ha ha). let me know if you read it! i admit, i did gloss over some of the war parts because all those details aren’t my favorite, but the rescue/survival part is amazing!


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