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The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue [Kindle Edition]

Michael J. Tougias , Casey Sherman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Kindle Edition $9.99  
Kindle Edition, May 19, 2009 $11.99  
Hardcover $13.92  
Paperback $11.32  
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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up—This "young readers" adaptation of The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue (Scribner, 2009) tells the story of the 1952 rescue of 70 men (and the deaths of 14 more) aboard two oil tankers that were heavily damaged 20 miles apart during a fierce winter storm off Cape Cod. At times it reads as a character-driven narrative, with short, biographical sketches of many of the men; at other times, it speeds up with the pulse-pounding pace of a thriller. The authors ably capture the drama of the situation: seas at times reaching well over 50 feet, the "shudder and earsplitting crash" of a ship tossed on the waves, the pain screaming through the body of a man waiting to scramble out of the frigid water. On occasion, readers may get lost in some of the geographical details or names of crewmen that do not have a starring role. There are several pages of resources in the back matter, and a handful of them are available online. An inset containing 20 photographs is included. This poignant history should be an easy sell to readers of adventure, seafaring, or rescue stories. A Disney film is in development.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

From Booklist

In a 1952 nor’easter, the distress of two ships off Cape Cod initiated a dramatic Coast Guard operation recounted here by coauthors Tougias and Sherman. Both vessels were World War II surplus, cheaply built, unwisely kept in service, and broken in two by the storm. All four halves floated, for the moment, and the authors’ narrative accordingly tracks four separate search-and-rescue efforts that form the complete story. The most prominent, in the press at the time and in official honors conferred afterward, concerned one motorized lifeboat, a puny 36 feet long and manned by four men, dispatched to do battle with the maelstrom’s towering waves. This is the seascape of The Perfect Storm, and the authors do justice to the peril in a tight account of the action. Plotting the course of CG36500, the utilitarian name of the lifeboat captained by Bernie Webber (interviewed for this book), Tougias and Sherman reach their peak of tension in the sink-or-swim moments when mariners abandoned ship and chanced their lives on their rescuers’ skill and bravery. An excellent entry in the disaster-at-sea genre. --Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • File Size: 1388 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1455129232
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 Reprint edition (May 7, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028S3WIY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,311 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story May 30, 2009
As the person responsible for the restoration and preservation of the MLB CG36500 , the story told by Mike and Casey is outstanding . Excellent research and interviews have been used to produce the story . Being responsible for this historic vessel that was involved in the greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history and having spent time with all four crewmen , I can assure the readers that this is an accurate and well told account of the 32 seamen rescued from the Pendleton .
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Tale of Sacrifice and Heroism June 8, 2009
This book is REMARKABLE! The story - a true story- moves right along and unfolds as it happened and without hyperbole. Off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952 a killer winter storm with hurricane-force winds and massive seas break not one, but two tired World War II vintage tankers in two. The stranded crews on the sinking derelicts desperately hope for rescue in these miserable conditions. Coast Guard men responded without hesitation and put their own lives in extreme peril. The characters do not consider themselves "heroes" - they are simply doing their duty; you get to know them because of what they have done - and what they have done and their courage is incredible. You CANNOT put this book down. Many non-fiction authors just tell the story leaving one to wonder about what happened to the "characters" after the epic has passed. This is not the case here. In the Epilogue and Acknowledgments sections - it's great to find out what happens to these people that you've come to know in the pages of this book. The research was clearly extensive. Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman working together have produced a tour-de-force - a work much greater than the sum of its parts.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Hours May 29, 2009
By Shelly
I started reading this book, and a day and half later I finished it. I couldn't put this book down and it's an incredible story. I'm not usually into stories like this, but it was tastefully done, quick, to the point and the story was not exaggerated. It gives us a look into what our Service men and women from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, and Coast Guard (if I forgot anyone I apologize), really go through on a daily basis in protecting everyone in this country and how dangerous it can be at times. I highly recommend reading it. You won't be disappointed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT READ! Difficult to put down! June 9, 2009
Do yourself a favor and BUY THIS BOOK! This is a captivating, quick moving and extremely well written true story that focuses on a horrible storm creating a situation in the Atlantic Ocean requiring the service of the US Coast Guard! I couldn't put this book down, it was simply fantastic. This book flows nicely as the writers capture with amazing description, the horrible circumstances of these men at sea as they waited to be rescued (and sadly, some were not). Once the story is told, you even get a glimpse in to the lives of the men in the years that followed. It is a poignant story of a courageous rescue and a sad disaster and serves as yet another reminder of how fortunate we are to be protected by the likes of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and, in this case, the US Coast Guard. This book will remind you again of those who serve our country and how brave they are. I am not familiar with the writings of Mr. Tougias except for this book, however, I have read Sherman's other books and you should too! Thanks for the great read gentlemen!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow...Incredible story! June 7, 2009
By C Quirk
I can not believe the incredible conditions that these brave coastguard men saved lives in! I couldn't put the book down! So interesting to not only read of the brave rescue but the feelings that followed! I highly recommend this book to everyone!!! I am blown away!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars finest hours!! June 1, 2009
What a well written and superb story of heroism at sea. This was a fast paced book that I will recommend to everyone for their summer reading lists a definite winner!!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Hours July 28, 2009
By Beth
I just spent the weekend on my boat on Cape Cod and this book happened to be on my husband's book shelf. I picked it up because I had nothing to do and I couldn't put it down. Both author's do a wonderful job of telling an authentic story of brotherhood and heroism. I feel like I know Bernie Webber and some of the other men in the story and I have a much deeper appreciation of the Coast Guard. This is a must read this summer. I can't wait to see the restored boat in Orleans!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Hours July 10, 2009
Indeed, Michael Tougas and Casey Sherman have captured the finest hours of the US Coast Guard in this famous multi ship and life boat rescue during a winter nor'easter off Cape Cod. Two huge tankers, the Pendleton and Fort Mercer, both hastilly made during WWII, broke in half in huge 70 ft waves off Chatham sparking one of the most dramatic sea rescues ever recorded. I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. I have personal knowledge of that terrible night. My late father covered the story for the Boston Globe. He had been in the US Coast Guard in WWII was given good access at the Chatham USCG station that night in 1952. His pictures of the Pendleton fromth next day are in my possesion. For my own part, I enlisted in the US Coast Guard reserve in 1956 and received training on that 36 footer at the USCG Training Center, Cape May NJ, along with detailed instruction on the events of that night and the heroism of BM1 Bernie Webber and his crew. You gotta read it to believe the heroism.
John Landers, Jr
Milton, MA
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Hours
I enjoy reading true stories. It gives us a new perspective on how things are and can be. Looking forward to seeing the movie in October 2015.
Published 5 hours ago by Sandy Roderick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent book
Published 2 days ago by lesia n gall
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Example of Coast Guard Rescue
This was a very good book with a lot of facts around the story line and with interesting flashbacks to other sea rescues. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Val K.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
I finished this book in two days. It is an amazing read and I found myself crying at the end. These were incredibly brave and courageous men. Can't wait until the movie comes out.
Published 21 days ago by Mon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by Mary D Higgins
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Quick Coast Guard read horoic seamen
Published 27 days ago by Mary Beatson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for my 9 year old
My 9 year old really enjoyed this book. He had to do a book report for school and enjoys true history stories so we picked out this book. He was able to read it fine. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Mom22boys
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story. Heroic men
Had one before and it was borrowed and not returned. this one will not leave the house. Great story. Heroic men. Read more
Published 1 month ago by judith schoenly
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the movie
Great book, highly recommended. If your from MA and have been to Cape Cod, it makes it even more interesting
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked the book so much that I gave one to ...
I liked the book so much that I gave one to my brother and one each to two of my grandsons.
An awesome story and a well written book!
Published 1 month ago by James Q Stevens
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Topic From this Discussion
If a Coast Guardsman saves a live can they be a hero?
While I understand your point, is it not heroic to accept a job that requires you to put your life on the line each and every day. Those who choose to live by the CG motto of "you have to go out, but you don't have to come back" have made this decision so that others can do their jobs... Read More
Jun 4, 2009 by P. Burns |  See all 4 posts
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