Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston

Renowned as FDR’s favorite warship, the cruiser USS Houston faced a bitter battle in the far Pacific after Pearl Harbor. With no hope for reinforcement, its crew saw a deadly rain of fire from Japanese bombers.

James D. Hornfischer (MBA ’98; JD ’01) brings to life the terror of nighttime naval battles and the valiant effort of the crew as they miraculously escaped disaster—until their luck ran out in the Sunda Strait. The Houston was finally sunk and its survivors taken prisoner.

Hornfischer’s account doesn’t stop there. Through journals, testimony, and historical documents, he recounts the more than three years the crew spent in the brutal jungle POW camps.

Hornsfischer lives with his family in Austin. His first book, “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” won the 2004 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature.

“Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors” was published by Bantam in 2007.

Reprinted with permission from the January/February 2009 issue of The Alcalde.