Monday, April 08, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Blizzard of Glass

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 Sally M. Walker

As regular readers may remember, last year I was on the committee for the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. In addition to our winners and finalists, the committee also publishes a list of vetted nominations (what I like to call the "long list.") I'm in the process of highlighting these titles during Nonfiction Monday.

In December 1917, war was raging in Europe. In Halifax Harbor, two ships were on their way to the action, one on it's way to pick up relief supplies, the other full of munitions. The two ships collided, causing a fire. As the munitions ship drifted, fire on its deck, it crashed into the pier and exploded, leveling most of of the harbor area and creating a shockwave that blew out almost every window in Halifax proper. 2000 people died, 9000 more were injured. Rescue and relief efforts were further dampened when a blizzard blew in the next day and dumped over a foot of snow on the area.

Until the advent of nuclear weapons, the Halifax explosion was the largest man-made explosion ever.

Walker tells this story (one that's very well known in Canada, but not so much in the US) through the eyes of children who lived around the harbor at the time. Children getting ready for school, running errands, and going about their day. She weaves these daily accounts in with the context of shipping lanes and traffic, and what was happening in the Harbor. Walker also covers the communities on the other side of the Harbor who were affected by the explosion, resulting shock wave, and tsunami. The book is also very good at detailing what happened after the explosion to everyone.

Fun fact: The Halifax coroner's office had a tested system in place to deal with a mass casualty event like this. It had been developed 2 years earlier, when they brought in the bodies from the Titanic.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at a wrung sponge. Check it out.

Also check out today's YA Reading List post, in honor of Yom HaShoah.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for award consideration

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2 comments:

Perogyo said...

I love books about the Halifax explosion but I have never read one about children's experiences. This sounds fascinating. Scary though- can you imagine?

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Good Lord! I don't remember ever hearing about this before. Thanks for the excellent review!