NYT bestselling author Michael Tougias to kickoff VT Reads at Springfield Library

“Finest Hours” author Michael Tougias. Photo Provided
“Finest Hours” author Michael Tougias.
Photo Provided


SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The Springfield Town Library is delighted to welcome Vermont Humanities Council speaker and New York Times bestselling author, Michael Tougias, on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Tougias will present the harrowing true tale recounted in his book, “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue,” now a Disney Motion Picture which opened in 45 countries in January 2016.

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.

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 overcame 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.

Tougias says, “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 and coauthor of 24 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.

This exciting event will kick off the popular statewide Vermont Humanities Council program, Vermont Reads, this fall at the Springfield Town Library. This year’s Vermont Reads book selections are Jennifer Armstrong’s “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” and Caroline Alexander’s “The Endurance, Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition,” the epic survival story of Ernest Shackleton and his twenty-seven man crew at the dawn of WWI.

This fall the Springfield Town Library will be offering a number of programs that complement Shackleton’s incredible true story of adventure and survival. The library has been awarded multiple copies of both books for patrons to borrow and share in our community this fall.

To accommodate a larger audience, the Vermont Humanities Council “Finest Hours” event with bestselling author Michael Tougias will be held at the First Congregational Church, located at 77 Main St. in Springfield, just three doors down from the library.

This event is free, accessible to people with disabilities, and open to the public. Please call the Springfield Town Library at 802-885-3108 for more information.

“A blockbuster account of tragedy at sea.” — The Providence Journal

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