Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum

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The true story of one of the greatest tragedies in New York history

On June 15, 1904, the steamship General Slocum was heading from Manhattan to Long Island Sound when a fire erupted in one of the storage rooms. Faced with an untrained crew, crumbling life jackets, and inaccessible lifeboats, hundreds of terrified passengers--few of which were experienced swimmers--fled into the water. By the time the captain found a safe shore for landing, more than 1000 people had perished. It was New York’s deadliest tragedy prior to September 11, 2001.

The only book available on this compelling chapter in the city’s history, Ship Ablaze draws on firsthand accounts to examine why the death toll was so high, how the city responded, and why this event failed to achieve the infamy of the Titanic’s 1912 demise or the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Masterfully capturing both the horror of the event and heroism of men, women, and children aboard the ship as the inferno spread, historian Edward T. O’Donnell brings to life a bygone community while honoring the victims of that forgotten day.
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About the author

Edward T. O’Donnell is an associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the author of several books, including Visions of America and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History. He lives in Holden, Massachusetts with his wife Stephanie, and four daughters, Erin, Kelly, Michelle, and Katherine (and their dog Sammy). To learn more, please visit his website, EdwardTODonnell.com.
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Reviews

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Additional Information

Publisher
Broadway Books
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Published on
Dec 30, 2008
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780307490872
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Maritime History & Piracy
History / United States / 20th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Edward O'Donnell
Laura M. Mac Donald
In 1917, the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was crowded with ships leaving for war-torn Europe. On December 6th, two of them-the Mont Blanc and the Imo-collided in the Narrows, a hard-to-navigate stretch of the harbor. Ablaze, and with explosions on her deck filling the sky, the Mont Blanc grounded against the city's docks.

As thousands rushed to their windows and into the streets to watch, she exploded with such force that the 3,121 tons of her iron hull vaporized in a cloud that shot up more than 2,000 feet; the explosion was so unusual that Robert Oppenheimer would study its effects to predict the devastation of an atomic bomb. The blast caused a giant wave that swept over parts of the city, followed by a slick, black rain that fell for ten minutes. Much of the city was flattened, and not one in 12,000 buildings within a 16-mile radius left undamaged. More than 1,600 Haligonians were killed and 6,000 injured; and within twenty-four hours, a blizzard had isolated Halifax from the world.

Set vividly against the background of World War I, Curse of the Narrows is the first major account of the world's largest pre-atomic explosion, the epic relief mission from Boston, and the riveting trial of the Mont Blanc's captain and pilot. Laura M. Mac Donald is as adept at describing the dynamics of a chain reaction explosion as she is at chronicling unforgettable human dramas of miraculous survival, unfathomable loss, and the medical breakthroughs in pediatrics and eye surgery that followed the disaster
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Using primary sources--many of which haven't been read in decades and--with a wonderful feel for narrative history, Mac Donald chronicles one of the most compelling and dramatic events of the 20th century.
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