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The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours

The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue

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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.

In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, found themselves 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 their terrifying battle for survival.

Not all of the eighty-four 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 came home to tell their tales at all.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416567226 | 
  • April 2010
List Price $19.99

Read an Excerpt

The Finest Hours

CHAPTER ONE CHATHAM LIFEBOAT STATION

The sea is master here—a tyrant, even—and no people better than ours, who have gone down to the sea in ships so often in so many generations, understand the subtle saying…“We conquer nature only as we obey her.”

—E. G. Perry, 1898

CHATHAM, MASSACHUSETTS
February 18, 1952

Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernie Webber held a hot mug of coffee in his large hands as he stared out the foggy window of... see more

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