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Old 08-18-2018, 05:01 PM   #46
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Perhaps looting was almost non-existant because there were no looters left standing? Not to mention that the military stepped up pretty quickly to prevent looting from starting.

I don't blame the author for recycling--all history texts recycle to a certain extent--but I still hold to the stance that if you are building a reference book, hen you include the citations in the text.
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:09 PM   #47
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Perhaps looting was almost non-existant because there were no looters left standing? Not to mention that the military stepped up pretty quickly to prevent looting from starting.

I don't blame the author for recycling--all history texts recycle to a certain extent--but I still hold to the stance that if you are building a reference book, hen you include the citations in the text.
But he had plenty of citations.

I personally prefer numbered footnotes, but endnotes keyed to lines of text is common for nonscholarly works. For one thing, it's cheaper.
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Old 08-18-2018, 09:51 PM   #48
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In the acknowledgements we see: "All of these authors and experts agreed to meet with me on my trips to their city, giving generously of their time and knowledge during our long conversations." This includes reference Janet Kitz (mistakenly spelled as "Katz" in this section). This gives me some hope that, however much it may appear to be excess copying/reference to Kitz's work, it has still found acceptance by Kitz - and if true, that's good enough.
I wish I shared your optimism, gmw! Janet Kitz was born in 1930, so by the time Bacon visited her, assuming he did, she was well into her eighties. I doubt she would have read his manuscript and approved it. Not getting her name right doesn't help either, but of course that could just be a typo that was missed.

On the question of this book being found more offensive than The Radium Girls, my feelings about the latter were of irritation at the "fictional" bits of people shrugging their shoulders or smoothing down their hair. I didn't have the impression that Moore was distorting history or taking chunks of others' research wholesale.

However, I must admit that I haven't done a comparison with another book on the subject, as I have done in reading Kitz's book. I felt the need to read what is clearly the definitive text on the Halifax Explosion for the very reason that I found so much to question in Bacon's book.

Good point issybird on the subtitle possibly being a contribution by the publisher. It could be so, but it does smack of Bacon's exaggerations and over-the-top approach.
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Old 08-19-2018, 01:54 AM   #49
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Well, approval may be too much to ask for, but there is a reasonable chance that a dedicated historian such as Kitz might be content to have their subject gain a wider audience through such a popular treatment, and so be accepting that their work played a part in that.

Yes, it appears that Moore did more original research for her book, but she also referenced modern research material (including the book by Claudia Clark that was discussed in that thread). I get the impression that we saw so much of Barss in this book because Bacon had already done that research, and this was a way of publishing the results of some of it. ... But the relative weights of all this would take more study than I am inclined to commit.

To the event itself...

I find it amazing that so few actually died as an immediate consequence. Sure, 1600 is a lot (out of just 60,000 or so), but this was a huge explosion with 15+ minutes for people to get themselves into the line of fire - which they were doing. I guess it says something about the resilience of the human animal, despite how fragile it sometimes seems.
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Old 08-19-2018, 02:44 AM   #50
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There certainly were some miraculous survivals, and it seems it was safer to be out in the open (as long as you weren't too close) like Barbara Orr and the Driscoll boys, than to be inside a building with the flying glass, building collapse and then the fires that started from cooking ranges. It didn't help that the buildings seemed to be largely made of wood.
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Old 08-19-2018, 05:25 AM   #51
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[...] I'm happy to buy a large part your explanation - particularly that Bacon overstates the situation rather than makes it up - but his reasoning is not all based on bombast by politicians. There are both immediate and historical reasons for some level of - let's call it - disagreement between the two countries at the time, which is why the situation as Bacon presents it does not seem unreasonable. Sure, things may not have been as a strong as Bacon would have us believe, but his presentation is not totally without substance. [...]
Just to add to this, I see Wikipedia has this:
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Anti-Americanism reached a shrill peak in 1911 in Canada.
and while annexation is not stated as an explicit part of that "shrill peak" in the linked article (although "economic annexation" is), I can imagine (given the historical situation) it being described as such by (parts of) the general populace. (One of the downsides of interviewing witnesses long after the event is that witnesses are notoriously unreliable even immediately after the event; the tricks our memories play with us over the long term just exacerbate the problem.)

I guess my point is, while annexation may not have been a serious consideration of the time, strong anti-American sentiments apparently did exist around this period and leaves the general gist of Bacon's presentation (in this regard) intact.
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:14 AM   #52
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You can't believe what politicians say at election time! (Well, that's assuming you can believe them at other times.)

But disagreements over free trade are a long way from annexation of Canada or even part of it. There's a fair amount of disagreement about free trade going on at the moment, after all.
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Old 08-19-2018, 10:10 AM   #53
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You can't believe what politicians say at election time! (Well, that's assuming you can believe them at other times.) [...]
The thing to understand - and take to heart if you want to avoid surprises like the one in 2016 - is that politicians say these things because they have an audience willing to believe them. It may not be a majority, but you can bet there are some (or the politicians would not be saying it).
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:29 PM   #54
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I find it amazing that so few actually died as an immediate consequence. Sure, 1600 is a lot (out of just 60,000 or so), but this was a huge explosion with 15+ minutes for people to get themselves into the line of fire - which they were doing. I guess it says something about the resilience of the human animal, despite how fragile it sometimes seems.
According to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, there were more than 2,000 dead (1951 identified victims and 250 unidentified bodies - possibly some overlap). Since there were many transients in Halifax at the time, the exact number killed may never be determined.

There was an element of luck in where Mont Blanc blew up; the explosion occurred in the upper Narrows. This concentrated the worst effects in the Richmond area; Richmond Bluff and Citadel Hill shielded much of the city from the direct blast.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:46 PM   #55
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Like others, I found the book a mixed bag. For instance, all the business outlining the Great War was fairly superficial. Barss was not particularly interesting character. I suppose his letters home about trench conditions have some point but that seems of little relevance for this narrative. Possibly one should make links and highlights to the various characters to help remember who’s who.

On the other hand, as an Irish American I had practically no knowledge about Canadian History and the unpleasant relations that existed with the US at that period. So I was glad to learn about this aspect of our mutual history.

But I actually had never even heard of this terrible explosion. Once we finally reach Part IV the narrative moves logically from the horrifying results, the blizzard, through to the rebuilding process.

I take Bookpossum’s point that Bacon is writing popular history. But how likely is it that anyone who knew little or nothing about the Halifax Explosion would ever have sourced Shattered City—the book she recommends? I wouldn’t mind checking it out now that I know about it but it is because The Great Halifax Explosion was nominated, chosen, and read that I even know about it.

So, personally, I think that while it wasn’t perfect, it was well worth reading and was reasonably well written—particularly from Part IV.

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Old 08-19-2018, 03:47 PM   #56
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But he had plenty of citations.

I personally prefer numbered footnotes, but endnotes keyed to lines of text is common for nonscholarly works. For one thing, it's cheaper.
... and a non-scholarly book should designed for an end-to-end read. This did not feel like that--every third chapter had to reiterate what had come before, as if the reader were jumping to this section specifically for the the contents outlined in the chapter header. That's my gripe. Mayhaps no one else is bothered by that, but it's one of my buttons.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:27 PM   #57
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... and a non-scholarly book should designed for an end-to-end read. This did not feel like that--every third chapter had to reiterate what had come before, as if the reader were jumping to this section specifically for the the contents outlined in the chapter header. That's my gripe. Mayhaps no one else is bothered by that, but it's one of my buttons.
I did not get that at all. I do think there were too many parts and short chapters, but not that they were especially repetitious. I thought the book flowed reasonably well.
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:01 PM   #58
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The thing to understand - and take to heart if you want to avoid surprises like the one in 2016 - is that politicians say these things because they have an audience willing to believe them. It may not be a majority, but you can bet there are some (or the politicians would not be saying it).
Sad but true. Still, they were talking figuratively about being overwhelmed by the US in a free trade arrangement. How do you think ours is going?

Fantasyfan, I actually found the book by Kitz by searching for books about the event, and then looking at previews of those available on Kobo. I could have got to it via the Bacon book, but it didn’t occur to me to think he might have nominated it, and I was so glad to be finished it, I didn’t go beyond the last page of the text.
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Old 08-19-2018, 10:05 PM   #59
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[...] There was an element of luck in where Mont Blanc blew up; the explosion occurred in the upper Narrows. This concentrated the worst effects in the Richmond area; Richmond Bluff and Citadel Hill shielded much of the city from the direct blast.
Thanks. I did not find the maps and photos in the book all that useful for this sort of understanding, not even when viewed on a larger screen.

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... and a non-scholarly book should designed for an end-to-end read. This did not feel like that--every third chapter had to reiterate what had come before, as if the reader were jumping to this section specifically for the the contents outlined in the chapter header. That's my gripe. Mayhaps no one else is bothered by that, but it's one of my buttons.
Yes, I did notice this in a few places.

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Sad but true. Still, they were talking figuratively about being overwhelmed by the US in a free trade arrangement. How do you think ours is going? [...]
Somewhere between irrelevant and negative. The Canadians were not wrong, the US can be overwhelming.
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Old 08-20-2018, 12:26 PM   #60
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What struck me most about the book was the author's determination to, for the most part, look for the best of people.

I agree that the book had too much to say about a very minor player.

BTW if you want to read a fairly mainstream article on Canadian feelings about the US here's the Canadian Encyclopedia article Canada and the United States.

To sum up there has been a continuing worry about Canadian identity and sovereignty in regards to the U.S. however 20th Century fears have been more about economic and cultural domination leading to being an unoffical part of the U.S. rather then straight-forward military or political annexation
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