Before WWII, the USS Houston had a proud history as FDR’s favorite warship. In March 1942 it was sunk in the Sunda Strait and survivors became POWs — many on the notorious Burma-Thailand Death Railway, building the real Bridge on the River Kwai. While their families back home waited for news, they endured three and a half years of unimaginable torture, starvation, disease, and animal-like conditions. James D. Hornfischer exhaustively details the full story in Ship of Ghosts: the visceral terror of a naval battle, savage treatment by Japanese captors, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the end, only 291 of the 1,168 crewmen returned home. War may be hell, but for these men captivity was far, far worse.