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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, and includes never before seen, on and below deck photographs documenting their journey from ship photographer Herman Schnipper. 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.