Ship of Ghosts

  • by James D. Hornfischer
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean
  • 17 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

James D. Hornfischer, acclaimed author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, delivers an unflinching account of heroism and honor at the limit of human endurance, and of the unsung warriors who waged one of the most remarkable battles of World War II. 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. Hornfischer brings to life the awesome terror of nighttime naval battles that turned decks into strobe-lit slaughterhouses, until the Houston was finally sunk and its survivors taken prisoner. For more than three years, the war continued for the crew in the brutal privation of jungle POW camps. But the men of the Houston fought back against their dehumanization with dignity, ingenuity, sabotage, willpower, and the undying faith that their country would prevail. Using journals and letters, rare historical documents, and the eyewitness accounts of the Houston's survivors, James Hornfischer has crafted an account of human valor so riveting and awe-inspiring, it's easy to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 of it is true.

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What the Critics Say

"A gripping, well-told memorial to Greatest Generation martyrdom." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Epic Tale

When I came across this title and read its synopsis I was surprised that I'd not heard about the story of the USS Houston before. As someone with an interest in naval history it piqued my curiosity as to why such an epic tale was not already known to me.

The story of the crew of the Houston is one that somehow has largely escaped the attention of the world. We've all heard about the major naval and wartime incidents of the second world war such as the sinking of the Bismarck, the attack at Pearl Harbour, the battle of Midway and many other such often told stories, so it will amaze you as it did me that this story isn't amongst the more popular ones we know of.

The story told here is truly amazing, harrowing and sometimes funny. The book details the brief history of the Houston and then proceeds to describe the key naval engagements she participated in gripping detail. We then follow the various groups of survivors from that vessel and the accompanying HMAS Perth as they struggle to survive Japanese captivity over more than 3 years. There are so many incidents covered her with respect to the many and varied characters that leaves one with a sense of awe and respect for the endurance and determination of these brave men. This is the sort of story that could be made into a 10 part mini-series such as the recently acclaimed 'The Pacific' and probably still have to leave things out.

It is enough to say that 'Ship Of Ghosts' is an incredible story that will leave an impression on the reader for a long time.

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- Stephen

Two different stories in one book

The first part is a naval story and second part is a POW story. It also provides a good background history of war in the Pacific. The personal accounts are woven into the text in a fashion that other authors regurgitating endless accounts could learn from. Superbly written and brilliantly narrated this story holds the attention from beginning to end.
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- Richard

Book Details

  • Release Date: 19-10-2006
  • Publisher: Books on Tape