Monday, March 26, 2007

Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917 - Laura M. MacDonald

The Basics: Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917, Laura M. MacDonald, 2005, 282 pages

How I found it: This book is in every tourist shop around town and is prominently displayed in every book store. Having lived in Halifax for over a year, I figured I should inform myself.

What's it about?: A comprehensive history of the events leading up, during, and after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. It is presented using the narratives of many different people, from school children, to sailors, to doctors and volunteers.

Did I like it?: This book was exceptionally well researched and well written. It presented the issue from many different viewpoints without playing the blame-game about who caused the accident. I had already read a fictionalized account of the explosion, however, Hugh McLennan's Barometer Rising. The books are quite similar, exception that McLennan's novel follows a few people and involes a love story, while MacDonald's follows many and does not too personal. MacDonald's is obviously more factual, but McLennan's did not seem very inaccurate in comparison.

Will you like it?: If you've already read McLennan's book, I would skip this one, unless you are dying to know all the gory little details. If you are looking for a strictly factual account of the Halifax explosion, pick up MacDonald's book. It's very education without ever being boring. Either, way pick up one of them; they're both great.

But don't take my word for it: The usual collection of blurbs from, a review from, one from VariFrank that points out the potential for modern terrorism in a situation like the Halifax Explosion, and a review from

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