Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors

James D. Hornfischer, Author . Bantam $26 (530p) ISBN 978-0-553-80390-7

This engrossing WWII epic by Hornfischer (The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors ) recounts the exploits of the Houston , mainstay of the skimpy Allied fleet opposing the Japanese onslaught in the war's early days, until her sinking in a desperate battle with overwhelming Japanese forces in the Java Sea in 1942. This part of the story features a superb evocation of naval combat as the harnessing of immense destructive forces—booming eight-inch guns, plunging bombs, stealthy torpedoes—by the crew's frenzied yet meticulous choreography. The narrative then shifts gears to follow the Houston' s several hundred survivors through Japanese POW camps in Southeast Asia, focusing on the labor camps on the Burma-Thailand railway (glamorized in the movie Bridge on the River Kwai ). Shorn of their weapons and confronting starvation, disease and the brutality of Japanese guards, the prisoners cultivated a different kind of heroism, where survival hung on the ability to absorb hardship and humiliation without complaint, and the pilfering of an egg or a can of condensed milk for the dying was the ultimate act of courage. The result is a gripping, well-told memorial to Greatest Generation martyrdom. Photos. (Nov. 7)

Reviewed on: 08/28/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Paperback - 530 pages - 978-0-553-38450-5
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-0-7393-4924-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-1143-1
Prebound-Glued - 530 pages - 978-1-61383-867-9
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