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Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS…

Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost… (2006)

by James D. Hornfischer

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A well researched and excellent book about a USS heavy cruiser lost early in WW 2. The sinking, for many, was followed by 4 years of horrorific imprissionment in various parts of the Japanese Empire. Many personal stories were shared and aptly described during the author's pursuit of an ugly aspect of WW2 Naval History. ( )
  jamespurcell | Feb 21, 2017 |
Outstanding reading. Packed with detail and really well constructed. Fills an need in the library of any avid reader of the second world war. The triumph of spirit by the survivors is as uplifting a story as could be asked. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Dec 8, 2014 |
Unforgetable. Indeed the experiences of the crew members of the USS Houston should never be forgotten and Hornfischer does these men great service in telling their story of heroism and sacrifice. This was a compelling read that displayed the full range of human character, from the greatest virtues of self-sacrificing love and bravery,to the depths of cruelty and depravity. Whenever civilization clashes with barbarism, may we strive to live up to the example of the Houston's brave crew. ( )
  HowHop | Feb 13, 2010 |
I may return to this book later, but for now I find it too densely crowded with unnecessary details to make for a compelling read. ( )
  debherter | Jan 26, 2009 |
4255 Ship of Ghosts The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors, by James D. Hornfischer (read 9 Jan 2007) Back in 1936 my brother Vern and I walked a couple miles to Nick Schram's farm and picked up a puppy, and Vern carried him home and we named him Corky, and he became a most loved character in our home till he tragically died on July 22, 1947. Nick Schram's son, Ted, was on the Houston and that is why I read this book as soon as I knew it existed. The book lists those who did not survive the sinking of the Houston on March 1, 1942, but does not mention Ted Schram, who survived. The account of the sinking is of high interest, and then the awful things some of the survivors went thru in Japanese prison camps is related--some were involved in building the bridge on the River Kwai. The account of the freeing of the prisoners reduced me to blubber, one is so happy for the event. This is a very good book, even though Ted Schram is not mentioned. ( )
  Schmerguls | Sep 2, 2007 |
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The day will come when even this ordeal will be a sweet thing to remember. -Virgil, the aeneid
for Sharon
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This is the ancient history of a forgotten ship, forgotten because history is story, because memory is fragile, and because the human mind-and this the storytellers who write the history-generally accepts only so much sorrow before the impulse prevails to put the story on a brighter path.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553384503, Paperback)

"Son, we’re going to Hell."

The navigator of the USS Houston confided these prophetic words to a young officer as he and his captain charted a course into U.S. naval legend. Renowned as FDR’s favorite warship, the cruiser USS Houston was a prize target trapped in the far Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Without hope of reinforcement, her crew faced a superior Japanese force ruthlessly committed to total conquest. It wasn’t a fair fight, but the men of the Houston would wage it to the death.

Hornfischer brings to life the awesome terror of nighttime naval battles that turned decks into strobe-lit slaughterhouses, the deadly rain of fire from Japanese bombers, and the almost superhuman effort of the crew as they miraculously escaped disaster again and again–until their luck ran out during a daring action in Sunda Strait. There, hopelessly outnumbered, the Houston was finally sunk and its survivors taken prisoner. For more than three years their fate would be a mystery to families waiting at home.

In the brutal privation of jungle POW camps dubiously immortalized in such films as The Bridge on the River Kwai, the war continued for the men of the Houston—a life-and-death struggle to survive forced labor, starvation, disease, and psychological torture. Here is the gritty, unvarnished story of the infamous Burma–Thailand Death Railway glamorized by Hollywood, but which in reality mercilessly reduced men to little more than animals, who fought back against their dehumanization with dignity, ingenuity, sabotage, will–power—and the undying faith that their country would prevail.

Using journals and letters, rare historical documents, including testimony from postwar Japanese war crimes tribunals, and the eyewitness accounts of Houston’s survivors, James Hornfischer has crafted an account of human valor so riveting and awe-inspiring, it’s easy to forget that every single word is true.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Describes the loss of the cruiser U.S.S. Houston during the early days of World War II in the Pacific and the fate of the warship's surviving crew, who were captured by the Japanese and forced to work as slaves on Japan's brutal Burma-Thailand Death Railway.… (more)

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