Book Review: Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 7.50.03 PMDuring WWII, on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis and its crew of 1,196 men were making their way toward a small island in the South Pacific. The ship was sailing unescorted and was assured by headquarters that the waters were safe. The Indy had previously been involved in a top-secret mission and had delivered uranium for the atomic bombs that would eventually end the war. Shortly after midnight, a Japanese submarine released six torpedoes at the USS Indianapolis and within minutes the battleship sank killing many of the crew on board and leaving many others stranded in the open waters of the South Pacific.

Out of the Depths is the story written by a marine named Edgar Harrell who was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis sinking. For five horrifying days and nights Harrell and the other surviving shipmates had to survive the open seas. Many of the crew succumbed to death through dehydration, saltwater poisoning, exposure, and shark attacks out on the open seas. Harrell shares not only his story of survival but his courage and unfailing faith in God through one of the worst naval disasters in U.S. History.

This book tells a compelling story that you won’t find in many U.S History books. The battleship Indianapolis, which was once chosen by President Roosevelt as his Ship of State, was attacked and sunk by a Japanese submarine. Hundreds of shipmates lost their lives, men were stranded in the open seas and later the remaining survivors would be forgotten and not even honored with a hero’s welcome. The details of the USS Indianapolis’ sinking were sealed by a Navy cover-up and a court-martial of the ship’s captain would reveal the Navy’s need for a scapegoat from truth of its own incompetence.

Edgar Harrell tells his own story of courage and undeniable faith but he is also a depiction of a true American hero. His son David Harrell writes a moving introduction to the book and describes the reason that stories like Edgar Harrell’s need to be told. He writes, “It is easy to grow up in the United States of America and take for granted the wonderful freedom we enjoy. I confess that I have been guilty of being unintentionally indifferent about our nation’s liberty, and perhaps even harboring an unwitting apathy concerning the wars that bought it… However, the bubble of peace and prosperity that once preserved my cavalier attitude was suddenly popped by the terrorist attacks of 9/11… With shocking abruptness we were all reminded that freedom is not free— a simple yet profound truth our veterans know all too well.”

Out of the Depths is a story worth reading because liberty comes with a cost and all too lately those that have fought for our freedoms are being forgotten. Even our educational institutions are not teaching the history of our wars and the sacrifice so many made to provide the freedoms we take for granted. Through stories like this may we continue to remember that evil is still very real and freedom is not free.

(This book was provided by Bethany House for review purposes.)

Julie Klose

Virginia Politichick Julie Klose is a freelance writer and blogger. Julie covers all topics related to US and foreign politics but is particularly passionate about social issues. She is pro-life and has interviewed different people and organizations within the pro-life movement. Julie has been featured on several radio shows for her conservative opinions. She is a contributing writer and content editor for When she is not dabbling in political writing, she enjoys blogging on her personal blog site at where she mixes it up about faith, family, and politics. You can find Julie on Twitter @thevelvetbrick1 or on her Facebook page The Velvet Brick.

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