INTO THE KILLING SEAS: An ode to the Greatest Generation
Today, my newest middle-grade action adventure novel, INTO THE KILLING SEAS goes on sale. It is a fictional retelling of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the waning days of World War II. It is a story I’ve wanted to tell for many years. And of all the books I’ve written, it might be the one I’m the most proud of.
Rudyard Kipling once said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Let me make it abundantly clear that INTO THE KILLING SEAS is fiction. My story, or any story, no matter how well told and thoroughly researched can only pale in comparison to the real story. And that is true in the case of the men who served on and survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the worst disaster at sea in US Naval history. Nothing that I could write or create could in any way compare with the drama, bravery and courage the men of the Indy exhibited in this horrible tragedy.
What I can do is use this incident and setting to introduce readers to a remarkable story of a group of men who showed nothing less than the best of the American spirit. My father was a World War II veteran and I grew up in the shadow of the war and was fortunate to experience amazing post-war prosperity. The men and women of my parents age, became known as ‘The Greatest Generation.’ And to me the label doesn’t do them justice.
As children, they survived the worst economic depression in our nation’s history. As teenagers they traveled to the farthest corners of the globe to defeat tyranny and oppression. As young adults they returned from war and went to work, building an economy so great and powerful that we are still living off its benefits today. Oh, and for good measure, they brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Were they perfect? No. But there can be no argument, that their contributions to the world we live in today may never be equaled by another generation for centuries to come.
And that is why I was so desperate to write a book set in World War II. Not only to tell the story of the men of the USS Indianapolis, but to also speak, in some small way, for my father and all the veterans of this horrible war. To say thank you.
I’ve received many letters from young readers, parents, teachers and librarians during my writing career. The ones I love the best are when a reader or parent tells me that one of my books has sparked an interest in history. A thirst to know what really happened.
That’s what I hope will happen with INTO THE KILLING SEAS. And if my mail so far is any indication, it’s working. I’m already getting mail from kids who tell me they used my book as the foundation for a history project on the real event. Teachers tell me they are using it to compare and contrast the difference between fiction and non-fiction and thank me for giving their students, an interesting, action filled story to use as a jumping off point for a discussion of World War II.
Time will tell. But I feel a deep sense of gratitude and gratefulness to all of my readers, and to my publisher for letting me tell this story.
But mostly, I feel a tremendous gratitude to all the men and women of The Greatest Generation and to the men of the USS Indianapolis. And to them I say thank you. We owe all of you a debt that can never be repaid.
About the Author
Michael P. Spradlin is the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the Youngest Templar trilogy, the Wrangler Award Winner OFF LIKE THE WIND! THE FIRST RIDE OF THE PONY EXPRESS, and several other novels and picture books. He holds a black belt in television remote control and is fluent in British, Canadian, Australian, and several other English-based languages. He lives in Lapeer, Michigan. Visit him online at www.michaelspradlin.com.
Written by Michael P. Spradlin
Publisher’s Synopsis: When the ship goes down, the sharks come out….
Stranded in the war torn Pacific, Patrick and his younger brother Teddy are finally homeward-bound. They’ve stowed away on one of the US Navy’s finest ships, and now they just need to stay hidden. But Japanese torpedoes rip their dream apart.
And the sinking ship isn’t the worst of it. Patrick and Teddy can handle hunger and dehydration as they float in the water and wait to be rescued. If they’re smart, they can even deal with the madness that seems to plague their fellow survivors. No, the real danger circles beneath the surface. And it has teeth….
Based on the true events of the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis, author Michael P. Spradlin tells a harrowing story of World War II.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0545726023
Discover more middle grade books like “Into the Killing Seas,” by Michael P. Spradlin, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Historical Fiction, Michael P. Spradlin, and World War 2 Books.