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Sponsored by Michigan Radio
Literati is thrilled to launch the latest book from New York Times-betselling author John U. Bacon, The Great Halifax Explosion. This event, on November 7th, 2017, at 7pm in Rackham Auditorium, is free and open to the public. Literati Bookstore will be on hand to sell copies of the book, which is releasing the day of the event. Following the book talk will be a Q&A and signing. There are no tickets associated with this free event, but we encourage you to RSVP on Facebook. John will be introduced by Cynthia Canty, host of Stateside on Michigan Radio.
About the Book: On Monday, December 3, 1917, the French freighter SS Mont-Blanc set sail from Brooklyn carrying the largest cache of explosives ever loaded onto a ship, including 2,300 tons of picric acid, an unstable, poisonous chemical more powerful than TNT. The U.S. had just recently entered World War I, and the ordnance was bound for the battlefields of France, to help the Allies break the grueling stalemate that had protracted the fighting for nearly four demoralizing years. The explosives were so dangerous that Captain Aimé Le Medec took unprecedented safety measures, including banning the crew from smoking, lighting matches, or even touching a drop of liquor.
Sailing north, the Mont-Blanc faced deadly danger, enduring a terrifying snowstorm off the coast of Maine and evading stealthy enemy U-boats hunting the waters of the Atlantic. But it was in Nova Scotia that an extraordinary disaster awaited. As the Mont-Blanc waited to dock in Halifax, it was struck by a Norwegian relief ship, the Imo, charging out of port. A small fire on the freighter’s deck caused by the impact ignited the explosives below, resulting in a horrific blast that, in one fifteenth of a second, leveled 325 acres of Halifax—killing more than 1,000 people and wounding 9,000 more.
In this definitive account, Bacon combines research and eyewitness accounts to re-create the tragedy and its aftermath, including the international effort to rebuild the devastated port city. As he brings to light one of the most dramatic incidents of the twentieth century, Bacon explores the long shadow this first "weapon of mass destruction" would cast on the future of nuclear warfare— crucial insights and understanding relevant to us today.
About John U. Bacon: John U. Bacon is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Three and Out (“An epic piece of reporting” — New York magazine); Fourth and Long (“Wonderfully reported, engagingly written, and utterly persuasive.”— Daniel Okrent), and Endzone. He appears often on NPR and national TV, 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.