John Boileau releases his latest book 6•12•17: The Halifax Explosion


From The Masthead News Aug. 23, 2017 Edition

 Masthead 6 12-17


"At first, I couldn't believe it when I heard the proposal," notes author John Boileau, "and my first reaction was 'What? Not another Halifax Explosion book!'"

Boileau of Glen Margaret and the author of a dozen books, as well as several hundred magazine and newspaper articles, describes his reaction to a January 2016 telephone call from John MacIntyre of Lunenburg's MacIntyre & Purcell Publishing. "I was aware of some seven or eight new explosion books to be published in 2017 for the explosion's centennial," Boileau continues, "and, quite frankly, I just couldn't see adding any more to an already crowded market. But then John explained his concept and I was hooked."

"MacIntyre's idea was deceptively simple: a visually stunning and fast-paced combination of text, photographs, prints, maps, artifacts, sidebars and quotes.

His concept depended on sufficient text to ensure the story of the explosion was fully told, along with enough visual stimuli to offset the text.

According to Boileau, "John's concept worked, especially when he found a genius of a designer in Dennis Cunningham."

Boileau and Cunningham worked very closely throughout the entire design and layout process.

"In fact," says Boileau, "I've never worked so closely with a designer on any previous book. John Boileau For most of them, I never even met the designer. But John felt the two of us had to work hand in hand and we were constantly in touch by phone, email and in person."

"To borrow a phrase from the Star Trek series," Boileau jokes, "we had a Vulcan mind-meld."

Boileau also wanted to ensure that he did not simply rehash the same old explosion stories that have been told so many times before—some of them erroneously. 

For example, through extensive research, he refutes the contention by many the Montlanc was partially to blame because she did not fly a red flag; discovered new twists on the story of Vince Coleman, the heroic train despatcher; describes the largely-untold, crucial role Canadian, British and American servicemen and servicewomen placed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion; and outlines the important contribution of American medical and aid workers from other than Boston, including Maine, Rhode Island, New York and elsewhere in Massachusetts.

Boileau also carries the story far beyond the explosion, from details of the public inquiry that followed, through reconstruction efforts and on to two close calls during the Second World War that could have seen a repeat of the 1917 explosion, as well as the 1945 Bedford Magazine Explosion.

Boileau came up with the simple title of 6-12-17, referring to the date of the tragedy, with The Halifax Explosion as the subtitle.

The book sells for $34.95 and is available in all bookstores.

Click here to see the original article in The Masthead News

Besides signings in various bookstores, there will be a public book launch on Tuesday, September 16th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

As well as signing copies of his book, Boileau will also give a representation on the explosion. Admission is free and all are welcome.

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