In December 1917, Halifax was alive with excitement. The streets were filled with troops, and the city, far removed from the bitter fighting in Europe, was reaping all the advantages of war. On the morning of December 6, however, the wartime bloodshed came to Halifax with a vengeance when a French munitions ship and a Belgian relief vessel collided in the harbour. The munitions vessel drifted into the North End and exploded, killing more than sixteen hundred people instantly, wounding more than nine thousand others, and damaging or destroying approximately twelve thousand buildings. The complete devastation covered an area of 325 acres, and hardly a window in the city was left intact. The statistics are incredible enough, but the testimonies from survivors are even more astonishing. Janet Kitz’s Shattered City is the most comprehensive book ever written about the Halifax Explosion. It encompasses dozens of previously unpublished stories, photographs, and documents, along with thought-provoking coverage of the inquiry into the disaster. In the end, you will be overwhelmed with admiration for the men and women who endured this accident of history, and who rebuilt their broken lives and shattered city.
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