Best-Selling Author of True Survival Stories Speaks in Coral Springs

Author Michael J. Tougias speaking to members of the US Coast Guard Academy. Courtesy Coast Guard Academy.

By: Jen Russon

Michael Tougias knows how to tell a thrilling story – but he isn’t making any of it up. The New York Times best-selling author who wrote The Finest Hours, the true story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s daring rescue attempt during a blizzard in Maine was so riveting Disney made it into a movie.

Tougias won’t be talking about that 2017 film starring Casey Affleck; he will, however, take his Coral Springs audience on a historical journey with a Word War II submarine commander when he presents, “So Close to Home: An American Family’s World War II Story of Survival”.

The presentation is part of the museum’s “Culture Speaks” series. Tougias is the last speaker in a collective series that began at the museum in January. Like the previous three talks, Tougias’ public offering is meant for the community to learn more about historical components of Florida, including diversity and war.

Tougias thinks his latest book, co-authored with his fiancé, Alison O’Leary, will intrigue Florida audiences because it takes place in the Gulf of Mexico. He explained that the date was 1942, and the U-boat was stalking American prey, just 30 miles from New Orleans.

“I think the key to a good story is to make it fast paced. I don’t talk about myself at all during this presentation. It’s a multi-media program that shows events from both the German and American perspective,” said Tougias.

The author said many from his audiences admit to being disoriented when the lights come back on.

“Where am I? Was I just transported through time?,” Tougias said, sharing his audiences’ feedback.

Tougias said that what makes So Close to Home special, in his mind, is the access he and his co-author had to the U-boat commander’s war diary. The pair also interviewed members of the family; one, a child during the time the story takes place, is still alive. Now 82-years-old, he survived the torpedoes that ripped the vessel apart and separated him — nearly permanently — from his family.

The audience will be able to see slides of the attack and rescue mission. Describing the presentation as “a survival story and history book rolled into one”, Tougias will discuss the challenges faced aboard the sub, and some of the other raids its commander made off the coast of America.

“I like to transport the audience into the heart of the action, so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done?’ It’s like watching a movie with the author giving behind the scene details,” said Tougias, adding that the event is free and suitable for all ages.

So Close to Home: An American Family’s World War II Story of Survival will take place at the Coral Springs Museum of Art on Saturday, April 13, at 2:00 p.m. located at 2855A Coral Springs Drive. Those interested may RSVP here.