The Story Behind the Book: The Great Halifax Explosion

The Great Halifax Explosion

BookPal attends a lunch celebrating author John Bacon and his new book, The Great Halifax Explosion.

BookPal attended a book signing on December 8th, sponsored by the Michigan Professionals and the University of Michigan Alumni of Orange County (UMAOC). University of Michigan alumnus John Bacon was present to sign copies of his newest book, The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism.

The 18 people present were an eclectic mix of UM alumni, ranging from mechanical engineers, real estate attorneys, and patent attorneys, to economists and business professionals. All were gathered to listen to Bacon speak about his book. In the 30 minutes Bacon held center stage, all eyes were transfixed on the author’s captivating tale. As he regaled us with the heart-pounding details of the deadly explosion, I understood why he had five previous New York Times Bestsellers under his belt — he was a truly talented storyteller. If there were any doubts in the room about wanting to read the book, they were dispelled.


John Bacon

John Bacon reads an excerpt from his book.


As the session came to a close, Bacon left us with this excerpt from the book:

We generally spend far more time dwelling on disasters than on triumphs, on villains than on heroes. But we’d be wise not to let the example of Halifax fade so far into the past, or we’d be denying ourselves one of the greatest expressions of humanity at its finest. If it’s true that our character is revealed when we think no one is watching, then December 1917 provides a monthlong case study of a people who passed that test in a thousand different ways — a ringing display of the better angels of our nature.


John’s Favorite Reads:

1. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

2. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

3. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand


About The Great Halifax Explosion:

On a cold winter morning in the Canadian port city of Halifax, the munitions ship Mont-Blanc erupted with 2.9 kilotons of TNT — an unprecedented explosion one-fifth the size of the atomic bomb. In less than one second, the Mont-Blanc was vaporized, most the city was leveled, and a 35-foot tsunami erupted. Amidst the 11,000 casualties, incredible tales of survival and heroism arose. Most notably was the Boston-sent train filled with doctors, medicine, and money. The Great Halifax Explosion details the moving stories of those who lived and selflessly threw themselves into rescue work that saved thousands.

By the end of the book, Bacon disproves three myths:

1. The United States and Canada have always been allies

2. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unprecedented.

3. When things are at their worst, people are at their worst.


The Great Halifax Explosion makes a great gift and excellent read for book clubs. Order bulk copies at discounted prices with BookPal today!

The Great Halifax Explosion

This post was written by Megan Habel, the marketing associate at BookPal. She is currently reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.


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