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

by John U. Bacon

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

Overview

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism by John U. Bacon

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, brvery, and surprising afterlife of one of the most dramatic events of modern times.

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Product Details
ISBN-13:
9780062666536
9780062666536
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/07/2017
Pages:
432
432
Sales rank:
5,067
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)
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About the Author

About the Author

John U. Bacon is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including Three and Out; Fourth and Long; and Endzone. He appears often on NPR and national television, and teaches at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the University of Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and son.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Part I A Forgotten Story

Chapter 1 A Century of Gratitude 3

Chapter 2 Under Cover of Darkness 5

Part II O Canada

Chapter 3 "Why Aren't We Americans?" 21

Chapter 4 Waking Up Just in Time 31

Part III The Great War

Chapter 5 As Near to Hell 43

Chapter 6 Halifax at War 55

Chapter 7 Life and Death on the Western Front 61

Chapter 8 Halifax Harbour 69

Chapter 9 "It Can't Be Any Worse" 75

Chapter 10 "The City's Newer Part" 83

Chapter 11 Wounded Inside and Out 92

Part IV A Dangerous Dance

Chapter 12 Two Ships 105

Chapter 13 December 5, 1917 118

Chapter 14 A Game of Chicken 124

Chapter 15 "Look to Your Boats!" 140

Chapter 16 Box 83 150

Chapter 17 "Oh, Something Awful Is Going to Happen" 158

Part V 9:04:35 A.M.

Chapter 18 One-Fifteenth of a Second 167

Chapter 19 Parting the Sea 175

Chapter 20 Blown Away 181

Chapter 21 They're All Gone 193

Chapter 22 The Panic 205

Part VI Help

Chapter 23 No Time to Explain 225

Chapter 24 Ready to Go the Limit 238

Chapter 25 A Steady Stream of Victims 244

Chapter 26 Blizzard 255

Chapter 27 Lost and Found 262

Chapter 28 The Last Stop 270

Chapter 29 The Yanks Are Coming 276

Chapter 30 A Working Sabbath 281

Chapter 31 "It's Me, Barbara!" 288

Chapter 32 Small Gifts 292

Chapter 33 A Toast to Allies 303

Part VII Rebuilding

Chapter 34 The Missing and the Dead 309

Chapter 35 The Inquiry 315

Chapter 36 Christmas, 1917 319

Chapter 37 Orphans 325

Chapter 38 "Don't Stare" 331

Chapter 39 The Trials 338

Chapter 40 The Wholesome Discord of a Thousand Saws 346

Part VIII Facing the Future

Chapter 41 New Lives 355

Chapter 42 The Accidental Doctor 359

Chapter 43 The Lasting Impact 366

Chapter 44 The Reunion 372

Acknowledgments 375

Source Notes 379

Bibliography 393

Index 399

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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

The most destructive moment of World War I occurred far from the Western Front, in Canada, where an explosion blew a city apart but propelled two nations together. John U. Bacon, a superbly talented historian and story teller, has rescued from obscurity an astonishing episode of horror and heroism.

GEORGE F. WILL
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