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In a 1952 nor’easter, the distress of two ships off Cape Cod initiated a dramatic Coast Guard operation recounted here by coauthors Tougias and Sherman. Both vessels were World War II surplus, cheaply built, unwisely kept in service, and broken in two by the storm. All four halves floated, for the moment, and the authors’ narrative accordingly tracks four separate search-and-rescue efforts that form the complete story. The most prominent, in the press at the time and in official honors conferred afterward, concerned one motorized lifeboat, a puny 36 feet long and manned by four men, dispatched to do battle with the maelstrom’s towering waves. This is the seascape of The Perfect Storm, and the authors do justice to the peril in a tight account of the action. Plotting the course of CG36500, the utilitarian name of the lifeboat captained by Bernie Webber (interviewed for this book), 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. An excellent entry in the disaster-at-sea genre. –Gilbert Taylor

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