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So Close to Home & The Finest Hours with Michael Tougias

May 24, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Michael J. Tougias, bestselling author and co-author of 24 books, will give a dramatic presentation based on his co-authored book So Close to Home.  Tougias will use slides of the attack, the survivors, and the rescue to make this “an edge-of-your seat” visual program. His book, The Finest Hours, will also be touched upon, as well as the making of the movie.

Please arrive early to reserve your seat(s). Doors will open at 6pm. The presentation is appropriate for all ages.

This program is made possible by the Trustees of the Falmouth Public Library.


On May 19, 1942 a German U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey 50 miles off New Orleans. Captained by 29-year-old Erich Wurdemann, the submarine commander had his sights set on the freighter Heredia with 59 souls on board.  Most of the crew were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians including the Down’s family.  The family was comprised of the parents, Ray Sr. and Ina, along with their two children, eight year old Ray Jr., nick-named “Sonny”, and eleven year old Lucille.

Fast asleep in their berth the Down’s family had no notice that two torpedoes were heading their way.  When the ship exploded all four members of the family were separated from each other.  More than half the crew and passengers aboard the Heredia  perished, but incredibly, after 15 hours in the ocean – facing sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration—all the members of the Down’s family survived and were reunited. Ray Downs Jr. aka “Sonny” is now 80 years old but he remembers every detail of the voyage, the attack, and his family’s miraculous survival story.

SO CLOSE TO HOME  is a survival story and history book rolled into one, similar to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.  “I enjoy doing these programs,” says Tougias, “because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done.’  It’s like watching a movie with the author giving behind the scene details.” A book signing will follow the program, and the presentation is suitable for all ages.

Tougias, known for his fast paced writing style and character-driven stories, has written several true survival thrillers, including The Finest Hours, which is currently being made into a major motion picture by the Disney Corporation.  His other sea saga’s, include Rescue of the Bounty, Overboard!, Fatal Forecast, A Storm Too Soon, and Ten Hours Until Dawn.   On a lighter note, the author penned the award-winning memoir There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: Misadventures of a Mountain-man Wannabe. With his daughter Kristin he also co-authored The Cringe Chronicles: Mortifying Misadventures With My Dad.

Visit  for more information about the author.

Location: Hermann Foundation Meeting Room


May 24, 2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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Falmouth Public Library


Falmouth Public Library
300 Main Street
Falmouth, MA 02540 United States
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