Author Michael Tougias will appear at the Kingston Public Library Wednesday Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. to give a slide presentation on his new book The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue. The Disney Corporation is making a movie based on the book. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Kingston Public Library, is free and open to the public. You can register for this program on the library's website.
On Feb. 18, 1952, an astonishing maritime event began when a ferocious nor’easter split in half a 500-foot long oil tanker, the Pendleton, approximately one mile off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Incredibly, just twenty miles away, a second oil tanker, the Fort Mercer, also split in half. On both fractured tankers men were trapped on the severed bows and sterns, and all four sections were sinking in 60-foot seas. Thus began a life and death drama of survival, heroism, and a series of tragic mistakes. Of the 84 seamen aboard the tankers, 70 would be rescued and 14 would lose their lives. . (Disney is making a movie of the Finest Hours and the book was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award, selected as a “must read”)
Michael Tougias, co-author of The Finest Hours, will use slides of the storm, the sinking tankers, the rescues, the victims, the survivors and the heroes to tell the story of this historic event. Tougias will describe the harrowing attempts to rescue the seamen, especially focusing on four young Coast Guardsmen who must overcome insurmountable odds to save the lives of 32 crewmen stranded aboard the stern of the Pendleton. Standing between the men and their mission were towering waves that reached 70 feet, blinding snow, and one of the most dangerous shoals in the world, the dreaded Chatham Bar. The waters along the outer arm of Cape Cod are called “the graveyard of the Atlantic” for good reason, yet this rescue defies all odds.
“I enjoy doing these programs,” says Tougias, “because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done.’ I don’t like to do author readings because I think they are boring, but with a slide presentation, the viewer can visually relive the adventure.”
Tougias goes on to say, “This event was--and still is-- the greatest and most daring sea rescue ever performed by the Coast Guard, and it happened right here off the New England coast. I felt this episode of heroism and tragedy needed to be told in its entirety because it’s an important piece of overlooked history. A book signing will follow the program, and the presentation is suitable for all ages. NY Times bestselling author James Brady (Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers, says “The Finest Hours recounts incredible heroism…A Gripping Read.” The Finest Hours has been the #4 bestselling non-fiction book in New England according to the New England Booksellers Association.
Michael Tougias is the author of 18 books including Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea, which the Los Angeles Times called “breathtaking…a marvelous and terrifying tale.” Tougias’ previous book Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do During the Blizzard of ‘78 received an Editor’s Choice Selection from the American Library Association which selected it as one of the top books of the year. Visit www.michaeltougias.com for more information.