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The finest hours : the true story of the U.S. Coast Guard's most daring sea rescue

by Mike Tougias; Casey Sherman

  Print book  |  1st Scribner hardcover ed

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Quite a read so far!   (2010-04-28)

Very Good

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by ameade03

A quote from “The Finest Hours,” which I thought really epitomized the role of Coastguardsmen in this daring sea rescue was: “Hard jobs are routine in this service. In a way, the Coast Guard is always at war; in wartime, against armed enemies of the nation; and in peacetime; against all enemies of mankind at sea; Fire, Collision, Lawlessness, Gales, Ice, Derelicts, and many more. The Coast Guard, therefore, is no place for a quitter, or for a crybaby, or for a lying four-flusher, or anyone who cannot keep his eye on the ball. Your period of recruit training is a time of a test, hour by hour and day by dad, to determine whether or not you are made of the right material. It is up to you, as an individual to prove your worth” (6). The novel highlights the grandest Coast Guard rescue and is an interesting piece of history and an all around great story to read.

To begin, the novel was written from multiple perspectives, which diversified the story and made it seem that much more real. In one of the most devastating nor’easter storms ever, the tankers, Mercer and Pendelton both split into two pieces. The story captures the point of view of crew from both tankers, as well as the Coastguardsmen who braved the extreme conditions to attempt to rescue them. At times it was a little difficult to follow the many people in the story.

There were multiple comparisons that I made from the novel to the role of a cadet and officer in the Coast Guard. First, the story is about the “Guard’s most daring sea rescue” and every officer and cadet should be familiar with it. The story took place in Cape Cod, where some of the most dangerous currents and storms are found. In my Nautical Science course, I learned what caused these currents which was interesting to relate to. Finally, when the tankers split in two in the story, the officers were on one section while the enlisted were on the other. This would be quite a scary situation for both groups. I think it is important to prepare for such a case and plan who would take charge and also train the crew in a well-rounded manner in case they need to step up. Clearly, this story can relate to a Coast Guard cadet and officer.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the vivid imagery used by Michael J. Tougias in “The Finest Hours.” The storm was captured very well and I was able to feel just how cold the Coastguardsmen were out at sea. They did not have “luxury” clothing items like winter gloves and long-underwear, but rather rubber gloves which caused them to get frostbite. I could clearly picture the snow falling on the rough seas, hiding the lighthouse only a few hundred yards away and the “thick black liquid covering the frothy crests of angry swells that rose and fell around the ship” after the Pendleton split.

I have not finished the entire book, but so far this has been a great read. The history would interest many and lively story would keep many more on the edge of their seats. I would definitely recommend picking up this book.

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