Monday, September 18, 2023

159. Shattered City

Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the Road to Recovery. Janet Kitz. 2010. 351 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: My interest in the Halifax Explosion began in 1980, sparked by research for an anthropology paper at Saint Mary's University.

Premise/plot: Shattered City is a nonfiction book for adults about the Halifax explosion (which occurred on December 6, 1917). It starts off by explaining the research process and project. Talking about the ways information for the book was gathered and collected, what resources were examined. It then begins chronicling the event. The section of the book that chronicled the day of the disaster was intense yet intriguing. It was packed with what appear to be firsthand accounts. This section is where there is a human element. It isn't so much that there's a consistent cast of [real life] characters to follow, but even spending a few paragraphs with a family is something more personal. The 'aftermath' section which is "the road to recovery," is perhaps less personal, less human-interest, more facts and statistics. (Though not always.) For example, reading about the reconstruction of houses, streets, neighborhoods is less personal and more matter-of-fact. Or reading about the weekly allotment of financial assistance to buy food and how that was determined. But there were also updates on schools for the blind and how adults and children were learning or relearning necessary skills for beginning to live life again. So there were occasional moments of high interest. 

My thoughts: This book should NOT be confused with a movie with the same name. That is how I came across this book. It is not the author's fault--nor the book's fault--that the movie about the Halifax explosion shares the same name. The movie chronicles ONE family and a small cast of characters. It builds up to the explosion over several days. You get attached to the characters. There is intensity and suspense. There is heartbreak. It is super-absorbing and compelling. This book....isn't. The first part is definitely more interesting than the second part. But it is also very technical. I'm not expressing it in the right words. Human interest. This one doesn't always stay focused on a 'human interest' perspective. The facts may be of great interest to the right reader. But if you care more about people than supplies of food or lumber...then you might find yourself a bit bored now and then.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I read Walker's Blizzard of Glass and found it fascinating. A bit of history not everyone knows.