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  • Hachette Books

Days of Steel Rain: The Epic Story of a WWII Vengeance Ship in the Year of the Kamikaze

Brent E. Jones

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Military history

Days of Steel Rain is a naval version of Stephen Ambrose's classic Band of Brothers, the epic story of the "vengeance ship" USS Astoria, comprised of late-in-war crew of retreads, and young and older men who had no desire to be in the war yet had to fight a desperate Japanese Navy.

During the late stages in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, U.S. Navy Captain George Dyer was wounded in action, but vowed to return. In 1944 he accepted an assignment on the heavy cruiser the USS Astoria. This was a "vengeance ship" whose mission was to avenge a sunken warship lost during the worst sea defeat in American naval history.

Just getting into action would prove to be a battle. Dyer's crew was comprised of late-war draftees, disciplinary castoffs, and broken veterans of previous traumatic combat. The new ship herself proved a further liability--the product of a failing shipyard torn by labor strife, shoddy craftsmanship, and materiel shortages. From a typhoon where the ocean was enemy to daring rescue missions in the Philippines to a gallant turn at Iwo Jima to the ultimate crucible against the Kamikaze, the men of Astoria endured the worst of the final year of the war at sea. The reluctant "vengeance ship" was called to respond in a manner that could never have been anticipated. Throughout, the men slept at their stations, fought crippling fatigue, and tested the limits of human endurance.

Days of Steel Rain brings to life more than a decade of research and firsthand interviews, depicting with unprecedented insight a group of American men fighting at sea. Throughout, author Brent Jones fills the narrative with secret diaries, memoirs, letters, interpersonal conflicts, and the innermost thoughts of the Astoria men. Blended with official records, Days of Steel Rain weaves an intimate, unforgettable portrait of heroism, endurance, and redemption.

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