Georgetown Peabody Library

The great Halifax explosion, a World War I story of treachery, tragedy, and extraordinary heroism, John U. Bacon - hardcover

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
Table Of Contents
Part I: A forgotten story -- A century of gratitude -- Under cover of darkness -- Part II: O Canada -- "Why aren't we Americans?" -- Waking up just in time -- Part III: The Great War -- A near to Hell -- Halifax at war -- Life and death on the Western Front -- Halifax Harbour -- "It can't be any worse" -- "The city's newer part" -- Wounded inside and out -- Part IV: A dangerous dance -- Two ships -- December 5, 1917 -- A game of chicken -- "Look to your boats!" -- Box 83 -- "Oh, something awful is going to happen" -- Part V: 9:04:35 a.m. -- One-fifteenth of a second -- Parting the sea -- Blown away -- They're all gone -- The panic -- Part VI: Help -- No time to explain -- Ready to go the limit -- A steady stream of victims -- Blizzard -- Lost and found -- The last stop -- The yanks are coming -- A working sabbath -- "It's me, Barbara!" -- Small gifts -- A toast to allies -- Part VII: Rebuilding -- The missing and the dead -- The inquiry -- Christmas, 1917 -- Orphans -- "Don't stare" -- The trials -- The wholesome discord of a thousand saws -- Part VIII: Facing the future -- New lives -- The accidental doctor -- The lasting impact -- The reunion
Literary Form
non fiction
First edition.
Physical Description
ix, 418 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates, illustrations, 24 cm

Library Locations

  • Georgetown Peabody Library

    2 Maple Street, Georgetown, MA, 01833, US