The Great Halifax Explosion

The Great Halifax Explosion

A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism

Book - 2017
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER * The riveting, tick-tock account of the largest manmade explosion in history prior to the atomic bomb, and the equally astonishing tales of survival and heroism that emerged from the ashes, from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author John U. Bacon

After steaming out of New York City on December 1, 1917, laden with a staggering three thousand tons of TNT and other explosives, the munitions ship Mont-Blanc fought its way up the Atlantic coast, through waters prowled by enemy U-boats. As it approached the lively port city of Halifax, Mont-Blanc's deadly cargo erupted with the force of 2.9 kilotons of TNT--the most powerful explosion ever visited on a human population, save for HIroshima and Nagasaki. Mont-Blanc was vaporized in one fifteenth of a second; a shockwave leveled the surrounding city. Next came a thirty-five-foot tsunami. Most astounding of all, however, were the incredible tales of survival and heroism that soon emerged from the rubble.

This is the unforgettable story told in John U. Bacon's The Great Halifax Explosion: a ticktock account of fateful decisions that led to doom, the human faces of the blast's 11,000 casualties, and the equally moving individual stories of those who lived and selflessly threw themselves into urgent rescue work that saved thousands.

The shocking scale of the disaster stunned the world, dominating global headlines even amid the calamity of the First World War. Hours after the blast, Boston sent trains and ships filled with doctors, medicine, and money. The explosion would revolutionize pediatric medicine; transform U.S.-Canadian relations; and provide physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who studied the Halifax explosion closely when developing the atomic bomb, with history's only real-world case study demonstrating the lethal power of a weapon of mass destruction.

Mesmerizing and inspiring, Bacon's deeply-researched narrative brings to life the tragedy, bravery, and surprising afterlife of one of the most dramatic events of modern times.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2017
ISBN: 9780062666536
Characteristics: ix, 418 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations, maps, portraits ;,24 cm.


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Jul 23, 2020

Lengthy and well researched books. How lengthy? By chapter 15 there was still no explosion yet...

Jan 29, 2019

This was quite an enlightening book. I knew nothing about this event and the impact that it had not only on Canada, but the United States. A disaster story and the courage and resilience of the people it directly impacted.

It started off a bit slow, but this is due to Mr. Bacon having to provide the reader with quite a bit of background information as well as some insights into some of the main characters who rose to met the challenges presented by this disaster.

Once the background and other necessary information is presented, you dive right into the disaster, how it occurred, and the immediate impact it had upon Halifax, Canada. Anything said beyond this point will be a spoiler. What I can say is this event at the time was one of the great disasters of the world and the lives lost, the courage and heroism of the survivors, and the reaction of Canada and the United States to help and aid Halifax and how this aid was accomplished.

The research and background Mr. Bacon conducted brings to the reader a highly insightful and well documented to bring to the reader, a story which almost went into history forgotten.

Again, after getting off to a bit of a slow start, this book engages you and brings you to ground zero of horrible disaster. You feel as you were there. Well written and told, this is a book worth reading, especially if you are a history buff.

Apr 25, 2018

" In 1889 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, several days of heavy rain brought tragedy when the dam at Lake Conemaugh finally broke, sending a gigantic wave of water and smashed houses hurtling toward the blue-collar town below, killing more than 2000 people. When some victims sued the country club where the Carnegies, Mellons, and other local millionaires vacationed, which owned the faulty dam, the courts ruled it was 'an act of God.' "

DBRL_Nathan Mar 01, 2018

The story Bacon weaves around the fateful events in December 1917 in Halifax, NS is very engaging. The courageous spirit of the people of Halifax and Nova Scotia, Canada as well as the kindness and generosity of the people of Boston is truly inspiring.

ArapahoeKati Dec 27, 2017

An engaging and detailed account of a horrific disaster that not many people have heard of.

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