Friday, November 10, 2017

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue, by Michael Tougias (author), Casey Sherman (author), Malcolm Hillgartner (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, April 2012

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.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.