The Finest Hours

  • by Michael J. Tougias, Casey Sherman
  • Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
  • 5 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, setting the stage for one of the most heroic rescue stories ever lived.
On February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, were 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.
The spellbinding tale is overflowing with breathtaking scenes, as boats capsize, bows and sterns crash into one another, and men hurl themselves into the raging sea in a terrifying battle for survival.
Not all of the 84 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 at all came home to tell their tales.


What the Critics Say

The Finest Hours recounts the incredible heroism of the Coast Guard, who risked their lives to save others. A gripping read.” (James Bradley, New York Times best-selling author) 
“Look no further for the real-life adventure of the year. The Finest Hours is a rousing page-turner, a fascinating history, and an inspiring ode to the courage and professionalism of men who face bitter winds and black mountainous seas…all to do a dangerous job. Put it on the shelf next to The Perfect Storm. That’s where it belongs!” (William Martin, New York Times best-selling author)
“Tougias and Sherman never sensationalize, never go beyond the facts, and yet capture all the pain, physical and emotional, of the survivors and their families.” (Providence Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Spellbinding tale

The story takes place in 1952 New England with a raging winter storm with seas of 60 to 70 feet and 70 mile an hour wind in snow and freezing seas and temperature. Two tankers the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer broke in half off Chatham, Ma. and the Coast Guard at Chatham send out a 36 foot lifeboat with four seaman aboard. Those four men managed to save 36 men (from the Pendleton) in a boat design to hold 12 men. Another 36 foot boat set out from another station to rescue men on the other ship. Not all men on the ships were saved. It is apparent that Tougias did a great deal of research before writing the book. The book has nail-biting action, suspense and what is great he also summed up at the end what happened to the lives of the "Coasties" and the seaman from the tankers . The four "Coasties" from Chatham received the Coast Guard highest award the Gold life saving metal. The author also reviewed the law and shipbuilding regulations regarding the breaking in half these two tankers. This is the greatest rescue by small boats in Coast Guard history.
Malcolm Hillgartner did a good job with narrating the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Two Times Terrific!

First of all, this is a really superior, good-old adventure yarn. A stirring tale of real life rescue at sea by skillful and selfless heroes. I think that any of us who haven't really ever contemplated the nature of Coast Guard work will never again cast these brave people into secondary military rolls! I appreciated also the follow-up information about attempts (and, alarmingly, failures) to improve ships and equipment to insure that such storms at sea result in less danger and fewer deaths.

Secondly, this book has recently been made into a movie. It's great fun to see how the screen writers took this true tale of two (and more) rescues and fashioned it into a cohesive two-hour adventure. We may be sorry that so many events and people were left out and that much was ultimately fictionalized. However, it shows how movie writers approach a complicated, multi-hero story and still produce an exciting film. (The movie, by the way, is rather old fashioned but darned exciting as well!)

I enjoyed the book - and the information it filled in about the movie I had just seen - very much and applaud a very good narrator.
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- C. Telfair "Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-03-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.