Days of Steel Rain is an intimate true account of Americans at war, written in the spirit of Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic's Indianapolis. Set during the late stages in the Pacific Theater of World War II, this epic untold story follows the crew of the "vengeance ship" USS Astoria, a collection of replacements, retreads, and older men taking a newly-built warship to sea. Many of her sailors and Marines had no desire to be in the war, yet all found themselves fighting a desperate Japanese enemy.
U.S. Navy Captain George Dyer had been badly wounded in action, but he vowed to return. In 1944 he accepted command of the new light cruiser Astoria, named to avenge her sunken predecessor 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.
Once at sea, the reluctant "vengeance ship" was called to respond in a manner that could never have been anticipated. From a typhoon where the ocean was enemy to daring rescue missions in the Philippines, a gallant turn at Iwo Jima, and the ultimate crucible against the Kamikaze at Okinawa, the men of Astoria endured the worst of the final year of the war at sea. Throughout, the crew 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 leadership, heroism, endurance, and redemption.