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Synopsis

A coin flip likely saved the life of Kenneth C. Ruiz. It was August 1942 and he was fresh out of the U.S. Naval Academy. He and a classmate flipped a coin to see who would stand watch on the bridge of their heavy cruiser, the USS Vincennes, off Savo Island as the Marines were landing on Guadalcanal. Ruiz was on the bridge when the ship took a direct hit and sank. He ended up in the Pacific without a life jacket, but his classmate and the entire radio room crew perished in the attack. "The luck of the draw" is a recurring theme in this powerful memoir. Following the demise of the Vincennes, Ruiz volunteered to serve on submarines for the balance of the war and had numerous harrowing experiences. He spent most of his time on the USS Pollack, which was sub-standard in terms of technology, but was still deadly and made a significant impact on Japanese shipping in the far reaches of the Pacific. A worthy addition to the litany of WWII books on submariners, The Luck of the Draw is filled with heartbreaking stories of how the smallest decisions made the difference between life and death for soldiers and sailors in the war.

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