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Halifax Explosion: The Untold Story of Canada’s Worst Disaster

1000 Islands Writers Festival
Event organized by 1000 Islands Writers Festival

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On December 6, 1917, the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc and the Norwegian war relief vessel Imo collided in the harbour at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The accident sparked an apocalyptic blast that was the largest man-made explosion prior to the 1945 development of the atomic bomb. The Halifax explosion leveled half the city, killed 2,000 people, and injured 9,000 more. Ken Cuthbertson, the author of the critically acclaimed new book, The Halifax Explosion, will recount the haunting, untold story of this country's worst disaster. It's also a cautionary tale that in many ways is so uniquely Canadian.

Kingston-born author-editor Ken Cuthbertson is a veteran of more than 35 years’ experience writing for newspapers and magazines in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. “A reformed and recovered lawyer” and former editor of the Queen’s Alumni Review magazine (1986-2014), he has written five books. His latest, The Halifax Explosion: Canada’s Worst Disaster (HarperCollins Canada, 2017) won widespread critical acclaim and readership. A Toronto Star reviewer hailed it as “a page-turning tale,” while Atlantic Books Today lauded it as “the most mature and certainly the best general history of the disaster to have appeared so far.” Ken’s earlier books include a whimsical historical novel set in Kingston (and the 1000 Islands) against the backdrop of the Rebellion of 1837 and biographies of celebrated American journalists John Gunther (shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award), adventurer-pioneer feminist-environmentalist Emily Hahn (a New Yorker staff writer for almost 70 years) and author-broadcaster William L. Shirer (author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and the man who taught Edward R. Murrow how to be a journalist). In addition, Ken is the editor of a restored edition of Congo Solo: Misadventures Two Degrees North, a long-lost 1931 classic of women’s travel writing by Emily Hahn.