Monday, July 16, 2012

Blizzard of Glass

YA historical fiction
While the sinking of the Titanic has captured the public's
imagination for a century, some equally vivid and devastating events
have slipped under the radar. Did you realize that the largest pre
atomic bomb man made explosion happened in Canada? I didn't until
adulthood, as in last week. When I read Sally M. Walker's Blizzard of
Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 I wondered why. I mean we're
talking significant event here.
That December a freighter, Mont Blanc, had entered Halifax
Harbor carrying a very deadly cargo for the war in Europe: TNT,
picric acid, and benzene. She [boats are shes by tradition] had been
refitted carefully to reduce risks. For example, copper rather than
iron nails were used since copper doesn't cause sparks when struck.
But there was no way to prevent or ameliorate the devastation caused
by an unforseen event: collision with another ship, Imo.
Basically what started off as an ordinairy day for residents of
neighborhoods near the harbor, including the families readers are
introduced to, rapidly devolved into Hell on Earth. The explosion of
Mont Blanc's cargo created a huge shock wave travelling over five
times the speed of sound. Buildings were shattered into piles of
rubble. A tsunami with a 39 to 45 foot crest followed. The next day
rescue efforts were hampered by a blizzard.
There's a Titanic connection here. In 1912 Halifax had been the
nearest harbor to the site of her sinking. Unidentified corpses
floating in the water were picked up and transferred there. The
system of rapid identification developed then was sadly needed again
in 1917.
This is a vivid and fascinating description of a really
important historical event that should have more place in public
consciousness. However, it is not for the faint of heart. I, who
have read more disaster narratives than I'd care to admit to, had
On a personal note, at our most recent RSU 26 board meeting we elected
Rose (who will do an awesome job) chair and me vice chair. Life is
A great big shout out goes out to our new Orono Middle School
principal, Mr. Jeffrey Paul, for whom I have high hopes.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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