The Finest Hours

The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

On the night of February 18, 1952, during one of the worst winter storms that New England has ever seen, two oil tankers just off the shore of Cape Cod were torn in half by the force of the storm. This middle-grade adaptation of an adult nonfiction book tells the story of the shipwreck and a harrowing Coast Guard rescue when four men in a tiny lifeboat overcame insurmountable odds and saved more than 30 stranded sailors. This is a fast-paced, uplifting story that puts young readers in the middle of the action. It’s a gripping story of heroism and survival with the same intensity as the bestselling book and movie The Perfect Storm.

A Christy Ottaviano Book


Read an Excerpt

Chatham, Massachusetts: February 18, 1952
Boatswain’s mate first class Bernie Webber held a mug of hot coffee in his large hands as he stared out the foggy window of the mess hall. He watched with growing curiosity and concern as the storm continued to strengthen outside. A midwinter nor’easter had stalled over New England for the last two days, and Bernie wondered if the worst was yet to come. Windswept snow danced over the shifting sands as large drifts piled up in the front yard of the Chatham Lifeboat Station.
Taking a sip


Praise for The Finest Hours

"This poignant history should be an easy sell to readers of adventure, seafaring, or rescue stories. A Disney film is in development." - School Library Journal


The Finest Hours (Simon & Schuster edition):


“The Finest Hours is a touching account, a sensitive rendering of what might be called four indescribably chaotic conditions. . . . Tougias and Sherman never sensationalize, never go beyond the facts, and yet capture all the pain, physical and emotional, of the survivors and their families.”—Providence Journal


“This book captures the wit, grit and sacrifice of Coasties and their boats.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune


“Tougias and Sherman reach their peak of tension in the sink-or-swim moments when mariners abandoned ship and chanced their lives on their rescuers’ skill and bravery . . .excellent.”—Booklist


“Nearly 57 years later, it's a breathtaking story that still defies the imagination.”—Cape Cod Chronicle


“It's good to know that real heroes exist . . . incredible.”—Concord Monitor


“Gripping. . . . Tougias and Sherman ably narrate the desperate struggles of crew members on both the wrecks and the rescue boats . . . will make readers appreciate the bravery of the men who put their lives on the line . . . action-packed.”—Publishers Weekly


“A gripping tale of Coast Guard heroism . . . an action-packed account of rescue at sea.”—Kirkus Reviews


Reviews from Goodreads



  • Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

  • Michael Tougias is the author of many true rescue stories, including A Storm Too Soon, Overboard!, Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster at Sea, and Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do, which ALA named an Editor’s Choice and Booklist praised “as the best story of peril at sea since The Perfect Storm.” A frequent lecturer on his work, Tougias lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Casey Sherman is an award winning journalist and bestselling author of six books including Animal, A Rose for Mary, Bad Blood, Black Irish, and Black Dragon. He received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Journalistic Excellence as a member of the CBS Boston news team, and has been nominated for an Emmy Award. A featured guest on major television networks and news programs, Sherman has lectured at The National Press Club and the US Coast Guard Command Center in Washington, D.C. He lives in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
  • Michael J. Tougias


Available Formats and Book Details

The Finest Hours

The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman