The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours

The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue

Book - 2009
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The true story of an incredible disaster and heroic rescue at sea told by two masterful storytellers

In the winter of 1952, New England was battered by the most brutal nor'easter in years. As the weather wreaked havoc on land, the freezing Atlantic became a wind-whipped zone of peril.

In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer , found themselves in the same horrifying predicament. Built with "dirty steel," and not prepared to withstand such ferocious seas, both tankers split in two, leaving the dozens of men on board utterly at the Atlantic's mercy.

The Finest Hours is the gripping, true story of the valiant attempt to rescue the souls huddling inside the broken halves of the two ships. Coast Guard cutters raced to the aid of those on the Fort Mercer , and when it became apparent that the halves of the Pendleton were in danger of capsizing, the Guard sent out two thirty-six-foot lifeboats as well. These wooden boats, manned by only four seamen, were dwarfed by the enormous seventy-foot seas. As the tiny rescue vessels set out from the coast of Cape Cod, the men aboard were all fully aware that they were embarking on what could easily become a suicide mission.

The spellbinding tale is overflowing with breathtaking scenes that sear themselves into the mind's eye, as boats capsize, bows and sterns crash into one another, and men hurl themselves into the raging sea in their terrifying battle for survival.

Not all of the eighty-four men caught at sea in the midst of that brutal storm survived, but considering the odds, it's a miracle -- and a testament to their bravery -- that any came home to tell their tales at all.

Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman have seamlessly woven together their extensive research and firsthand interviews to create an unforgettable tale of heroism, triumph, and tragedy, one that truly tells of the Coast Guard's finest hours.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416567219
1416567216
Characteristics: xiii, 204 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Sherman, Casey 1969-

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n
nat_cyr0
Sep 03, 2016

I absolutely loved this book, a real page turner from beginner to the end. Michael and Casey tell the story of Bernie Webber and his fellow Coasties who went out that night to rescue these crew members from the tankers that were torn apart.

r
rbritchie
Mar 27, 2016

Great book. Captures the essence of search and recue from both the survivors and rescuer viewpoint. details the courage and dedication of our Coast Guardsmen

j
jcamenga1
Mar 07, 2016

In the winter of 1952 a savage Nor’easter caught two aging tankers in a death grip in the waters off of Cape Cod. Both ships broke in half and surviving crew members clung to the halves of both vessels bobbing in the angry sea. Most of the crew would be rescued by the heroic efforts by members of the US Coast Guard particularly by those crewing the 36 foot lifeboats. This reviewer heard mention of this event and this book here by a relative in the Boston area film business who was part of the crew for the Disney film. For the reader the story is a reminder of the Coast Guard saying “You have to go out” No one says anything about coming back

rlbecker Jan 24, 2011

This was a book about the heroics of the coast guard in a rescue of two ships that broke apart off the coast of Mass. It was amazing to read about the way the coast guardsmen braved incredibly terrible seas and rescued most of the sailors from 4 sections of the two ships. They deservedly won medals for the rescues and became heroes in the early 1950s. I was glad I was able to find out about the rescues. A great adventure story.

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