Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review: The Finest Hours

As I noted in a review of Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn more than two years ago, I don’t read many non-fiction books. And, when I do, I tend to gravitate toward stories about disasters.

My latest venture into non-fiction was no exception. Last month I finished the audiobook of The Finest Hours. Written by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman and narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner, it is the riveting account of the “U.S. Coast Guard’s most daring sea rescue” -- a historic event that I had never heard about.

The book is much more than a tale about the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, two oil tankers that split in half in heavy seas off Massachusetts in February 1952. It is a tribute to an often overlooked and unappreciated branch of the U.S. military.

Tougias and Sherman tell the story from the perspective of the participants and, in doing so, give the reader a feel for what it was like to be there. The book is much like Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm, which chronicled the last voyage of the doomed fishing boat Andrea Gail.

Like Junger’s work, Tougias and Sherman’s book will be adapted to the big screen. Walt Disney Pictures will release a film account of The Finest Hours in January.

I recommend the book for anyone who likes stories about the sea and about the unsung heroes of the Coast Guard who take risks that many of us could not even imagine. Rating: 4/5.

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