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The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S.…

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most…

by Michael J. Tougias, Casey Sherman

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The book starts with an introduction of the main hero of the story, Bernie Webber. He served with the U.S. Maritime service,then went onto working in the Coast Guard. Then, one of the main characters, Captain John Fitzgerald, is introduced. He is captain of the "Pendleton", one of two ships this story focuses on that split in half during a hard winter storm. After the Pendleton splits, Fitzgerald sends an SOS to the coast guard. Bernie, and three other heroes are on their way. Then,the second ship is introduced. This ship is called "Fort Mercer", and has faced the same mid split damage as the Pendleton. Fort Mercer's captain, Frederick Paetzel, is able to notify the Coast Guard as well. Coming to both ship's savior, the rescue team saves the Pendleton crew from its bow and stern sections. Then, to save the Mercer crew a ship called the "Acushnet" arrives to the scene and the people on are forced to jump from their ship onto the Acushnet, risking their lives as it moves viscously up and down. In conclusion of the story, 38 out of 43 Fort Mercer members survive, and 32 of 33 Pendleton members survive the terrible blizzard south of Cape Cod.

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 star rating for the following reasons. First off, it was hard to tell when the author was switching from one of the ships to another, and I had trouble understanding what ships were being spoken about. It made reading the book take much longer. It also did not intrigue me, since both ships were going through the same disaster it made the book predictable and quite boring. Although, I did enjoy the end of the book when the main rescuer,Bernie Webber, refused to take a gold medal he was awarded unless his entire team was given one too. " They were there, the same as me, and did all the heavy rescuing. If they can't get the gold, I don't want it." That to me showed a lot of character and made him more interesting. I also liked the pictures in the book of the actual disaster; they helped put a clearer image in my head of how the ships perished. So, if you enjoy reading about rescue missions in the sea about two ships facing the same problems, this book is for you- it just wasn't the right choice for me. ( )
  VivienneS.B4 | Jan 1, 2019 |
In February 1952, New England was being battered by one of the worst nor'easters in years, and two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, both broke in two.

The two tankers were both built of "dirty steel," and were welded, not riveted. Both things made them more brittle and more at risk of precisely the disaster that befell them both. The dozens of men on each ship were at risk, especially given that both halves of each ship were at risk of capsizing. Rescuing them was not a job for amateurs, and the Coast Guard sent out two 36-foot lifeboats, each crewed by just four men.

Tougias gives us a thrilling and sometimes heartbreaking account of the rescue efforts, interleaved with the history of rescue lifeboats, and the individual histories of the men putting their lives at risk in these rescue efforts. At times this has the effect of slowing the narrative of thrilling events. On balance, though, it makes the whole story richer and more satisfying.

They couldn't save all the men on those two ships. They saved many, though, indeed more than they should have been able to fit on their comparatively tiny boats. It's a wonderful example of just how important, and heroic, the outwardly mundane United States Coast Guard really is.

It's an overall excellent book, and well worth some of your time.


I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
In the beginning, two ships were stuck in the storm of 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod . They could not dock in the harbor because the storm was so intense. Both decided to wait for the storm to subside. The ships split in half at about the same time. The ships were named the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer. The Pendleton immediately lost connection when it split, but the Fort Mercer got lucky and had access to contact the Coast Guard for a couple of hours. The Coast Guard sent a couple of ships for the Fort Mercer while the Pendleton was unknown of. Later, as a plane was looking for the Fort Mercer, it bumped straight into the Pendleton. At first he thought that it was the Fort Mercer, but when he looked closely at the name, he saw the bow section of the Pendleton. He alerted the Coast Guard and they sent a small wooden boat that was named the CG36500 with the historic crew of Bernie Webber, Richard Livesey, Andy Fitzgerald, and Ervin Maske. They battled the treacherous ocean for hours until they finally reached the Pendleton. They saved a total of 32 out of 33 people on board. For the Fort Mercer, they sent two ships to get them off. They saved everyone on the ship. In the end, they rebuilt the CG 36500 and Bernie and his crew got together for a 50th anniversary of the wreck.

I really loved this book because it was filled with action and determination to save others. The crew of the CG 36500 would stop at nothing to save the people from the sinking Pendleton. The book also described teamwork between the crew members of the rescues of the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer. The people of the really showed care to the survivors of the ship which really amazed me because they were stuck in the middle of the ocean in frigid waters and they had the right to be nervous. Another thing I liked about this book was the rising action. The rising action felt like the climax, but it was just getting better and better. I rate this book 5 out of 5. ( )
  PhillipO.B4 | Sep 10, 2018 |
On Febraury 18, 1952, a nor'easter swept through Cape Cod and the seas. Caught in the storm, two oil tankers - the Pendleton and the Mercer - split in half. Back on shore, the Coast Guard launched a daring rescue on 36 foot lifeboats attempting to save both crews' lives in dangerous waters, high winds, and at great risk to their own men.

Using research and interviews with the men involved, Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman weave a taut, fast-paced adventure tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat and pages turning fast. The authors juggle the various people and pieces of the drama with aplomb. The aftermath of the rescue and catching up with both men and boats' lives was a little more muddled, but it was still an excellent read. ( )
  bell7 | Apr 17, 2018 |
My history dose for the month-- a fascinating look at the heroic efforts of Coast Guard rescuers in a deadly Nor'easter. Four separate Coast Guard lifeboats attack 2 oil tankers off Cape Cod--both broken in half. When ordinary men do what has to be done at great peril, their heroism can be spectacular. Of particular interest, what happened to the Coasties after the events that shaped these young men? However, as much as I DID like it, I had a hard time keeping the various names (both of people and of boats) straight in a listen...maybe it would be easier with a read? ( )
  buffalogr | Mar 3, 2018 |
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Michael J. Tougiasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sherman, Caseymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To the rescuers, the survivors, and those who did not make it back to shore
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She sits quietly at the end of a long wooden pier in Rock Harbor.
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Written by Michael J. Tougias & Casey Sherman
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In the winter of 1932, New England was battered by the most brutal nor'easter in years, wreaking havoc on land and creating a wind-whipped peril of the freezing Atlantic. In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Fort Mercer and the Pendleton, broke in two. The Coast Guard raced its cutters to the Fort Mercer to rescue the men huddled in the halves, and when the Pendleton proved to be in danger of capsizing, sent out into the storm two 36-foot wooden lifeboats, each manned by four crewmen, in what every crewman realized could be a suicide mission in the enormous seventy-foot seas.… (more)

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