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Left for Dead
Cover of Left for Dead
Left for Dead
A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis
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For fans of sea battles, adventures, and war stories like Unbroken, this is the incredible true story of a boy who helps to bring closure to the survivors of the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis,...
For fans of sea battles, adventures, and war stories like Unbroken, this is the incredible true story of a boy who helps to bring closure to the survivors of the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis,...
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Description-

  • For fans of sea battles, adventures, and war stories like Unbroken, this is the incredible true story of a boy who helps to bring closure to the survivors of the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis, and helps exonerate the ship's captain fifty years later.

    Hunter Scott first learned about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis by watching the movie Jaws when he was just eleven-years-old. This was fifty years after the ship had sunk, throwing more than 1,000 men into shark-infested waters—a long fifty years in which justice still had not been served.
    It was just after midnight on July 30, 1945 when the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Those who survived the fiery sinking—some injured, many without life jackets—struggled to stay afloat as they waited for rescue. But the United States Navy did not even know they were missing. As time went on, the Navy needed a scapegoat for this disaster. So it court-martialed the captain for "hazarding" his ship. The survivors of the Indianapolis knew that their captain was not to blame. For fifty years they worked to clear his name, even after his untimely death.
    But the navy would not budge—not until Hunter entered the picture. His history fair project on the Indianapolis soon became a crusade to restore the captain's good name and the honor of the men who served under him.
    Praise for Left for Dead:
    Christopher Award Winner
    An ALA-YALSA Best Nonfiction for Young Adults Book
    "Compelling, dreadful, and amazing."—VOYA

    "This exciting, life-affirming book about war heroics and justice . . . proves without question the impact one student can have on history."—Booklist
    "Well written and well documented ... this excellent presentation fills a void in most World War II collections "—School Library Journal

    "Young readers . . . will no doubt be inspired by the youth's tenacity—and by the valor of those who served on the Indianapolis."—The Horn Book
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One The Sailor

    July 1945

    The horror has seared my mind like a hot poker and I cannot forget it. After fifty years the dates and faces have lost their distinction, but the horror never gives way. The older I get, the more it bothers me. I can still hear the screams of the injured and dying.

    Cozell Smith, 1994

    The sailor finds himself swimming in the open ocean, wondering in shock how it came to this so suddenly. It's just past midnight. He'd been sleeping above deck, because it was too hot below and it smelled of sweat and bad breath and dirty laundry. He woke up at eleven-thirty, half an hour before his turn to stand watch. He went to the mess hall, grabbed a cup of coffee from the fifty-gallon urn and took his coffee topside. A quarter moon appeared briefly in a break in the clouds, high overhead. Now it's dark. He looks up, straining to see the moon. There's no light. The last light he saw was his ship on fire, flames, smoke, mixed with the horrible sounds of men screaming.

    "I can't swim!" the man hanging on to him shouts.

    The sailor wonders how they could let a man who can't swim join the navy. The sailor's name is Cozell Lee Smith, but they call him Smitty. The man whose life he's saving is named Dronet. Smith has no life jacket. Dronet has no life jacket. Smith has already warned Dronet not to get scared and grab him around the neck, that he'll leave him if he does. He'll save Dronet's life if he can, but if he has to, he will cut him loose. He's already tiring. He's a strong swimmer, but Dronet is heavy, weighing him down.

    Smith swims. He gets a mouthful of seawater. He spits, coughs, keeps swimming. He inhales fumes and feels sickened by them. He hears screaming. He wonders how many others there are. He can't see a thing. It's too dark. He can't tell what direction the screaming is coming from. He strains for breath and accidentally swallows another mouthful of seawater, but it's not just seawater. It's fuel oil from the ship's ruptured tanks, thick and gooey. Instantly he's covered in it. It goes down his throat. More fumes. He feels sick and retches. He pushes his vomit away from him in the water. Dronet is coughing.

    "What is it?" Dronet asks.

    "Oil," Smith gasps. "Hang on. Keep kicking."

    The irony is that if Smith hadn't joined the navy, he might well have been working in the oil fields back in Oklahoma. He'd volunteered at the age of seventeen, fresh out of tenth grade. His father, a barber, signed the permission papers with the thought that joining the navy might keep his son out of the kind of trouble a boy might get into, hanging around in a small town with nothing to do.

    He spits. The oil goes down his throat even when he tries not to swallow. The ship burned oil to heat its boilers, which created the steam needed to turn the turbines to drive the propellers, which seamen call screws. It was, for its size, one of the fastest ships in the world, with a flank speed of thirty-two knots. He'd been standing at his watch station in "the bathtub," an antiaircraft battery protected by a circular splinter shield, shooting the breeze with Jimmy Reid, another coxswain from his division, when they heard the explosion. The shock of the blast nearly knocked him off his feet.

    "What the heck was that?" Smith asked. Reid said he thought it was a boiler exploding.

    "That could be good," Reid said. Smith wondered what could be good about it. "We'll go back to the States for repair," Reid explained.

    Then the ship began to list, still moving forward but tilting to starboard, five degrees, then ten. Smith thought it would stop any second, but it didn't, listing fifteen degrees, then twenty. It...

About the Author-

  • Peter Nelson won the Christopher Award for Left for Dead, which is bestowed upon a novel that affirms the highest value of the human spirit. He is also the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction and has written many articles for magazines. Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 1, 2002
    Left for Dead by Pete Nelson explains how the research of 11-year-old Hunter Scott who was inspired by a passing reference in the movie Jaws uncovered the truth behind a historic WWII naval disaster aboard the USS Indianapolis and led to the reversal of the wrongful court martial of the ship's captain. A full-color photographic inset and a preface by the now 17-year-old Scott round out the volume.

  • Booklist "Compelling, dreadful, and amazing."
  • The Horn Book "This exciting, life-affirming book about war heroics and justice . . . proves without question the impact one student can have on history."

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    Random House Children's Books
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