A terrible explosion devastated Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a neighboring town in 1917, causing local residents and others miles away to act heroically in response to an unprecedented catastrophe.
Thousands of miles from the action of World War I, two ships headed for the conflict collided in Halifax Harbour and precipitated an astonishing disaster. On December 6, 1917, the Mont Blanc and the Imo were slated to deliver supplies to Europe. “In less than five minutes, an explosion—the likes of which the world had never seen before—and a tsunami had destroyed homes, factories, and businesses, wiping them from the land as though they had never existed.” Rescue was hampered by a blizzard the next day. Nearly 2,000 people perished in the town that a few years earlier had helped with the remains of Titanic victims. Sibert Award–winning author Walker (Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, 2005) tells this story with detailed immediacy, focusing on five families affected as well as the accident itself. Tension builds as the hours before the explosion are described. The attempts to provide relief as well as to rebuild add another level of interest to the unfolding story. Despite the immense tragedy, the satisfying concluding chapter tells how loss and heroism are remembered by descendants of townspeople and those who helped. Period photographs contribute to the high level of authenticity. Source notes reveal how much came from personal narratives and interview comments of those involved.
Riveting. (Nonfiction. 10-14)