SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism

Morrow. Nov. 2017. 432p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062666536. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062666550. HIST
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Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1917, was a major stopping place and reshipment point for war supplies shipped to Europe. Thousands of ships carrying war material passed safely through the harbor on their way to France and Great Britain. On December 6, 1917, two cargo ships collided in the narrow channel that connects the harbor basin to the Atlantic. One ship, the Mont-Blanc, was heavily laden with aviation fuel, picric acid (a high explosive), guncotton, and dynamite. The result was the largest explosion in history, until that time, which devastated Halifax and much of the port infrastructure. Some 2,000 Haligonians died and 9,000 were wounded. Bacon (Three and Out; Endzone) treads familiar territory, as there are several books on the subject, but his respectable narrative, drawn from well-documented stories, details the lapses in procedure and judgment that led up to the catastrophe, describing both the victims' accounts and the enormous outpouring of aid from both Canada and America.
VERDICT An accessible narrative useful to all World War I collections in which the event is not otherwise covered.

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