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Aftershock: The Halifax Explosion and the Persecution of Pilot Francis Mackey

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WINNER of the 2015 Atlantic Book Award for Non-Fiction On December 6, 1917, harbor pilot Francis Mackey was guiding the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, into Bedford Basin to join a convoy across the Atlantic when it was rammed by Belgian Relief vessel Imo. The resulting massive explosion destroyed Halifax's north end and left at least two thousand people dead, includin WINNER of the 2015 Atlantic Book Award for Non-Fiction On December 6, 1917, harbor pilot Francis Mackey was guiding the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, into Bedford Basin to join a convoy across the Atlantic when it was rammed by Belgian Relief vessel Imo. The resulting massive explosion destroyed Halifax's north end and left at least two thousand people dead, including pilot William Hayes aboard Imo. Who was to blame? Federal government and naval officials found in Pilot Mackey a convenient target for public anger. Charged with manslaughter, he was imprisoned, villainized in the press, and denied his pilot's license even after the charges were dropped. A century later he is still unfairly linked to the tragedy. Through interviews with Mackey's relatives, transcripts, letters, and newly exposed government documents, author Janet Maybee explores the circumstances leading up to the Halifax Explosion, the question of fault, and the impact on the pilot and his family of the unjust, deliberate persecution that followed.


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WINNER of the 2015 Atlantic Book Award for Non-Fiction On December 6, 1917, harbor pilot Francis Mackey was guiding the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, into Bedford Basin to join a convoy across the Atlantic when it was rammed by Belgian Relief vessel Imo. The resulting massive explosion destroyed Halifax's north end and left at least two thousand people dead, includin WINNER of the 2015 Atlantic Book Award for Non-Fiction On December 6, 1917, harbor pilot Francis Mackey was guiding the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, into Bedford Basin to join a convoy across the Atlantic when it was rammed by Belgian Relief vessel Imo. The resulting massive explosion destroyed Halifax's north end and left at least two thousand people dead, including pilot William Hayes aboard Imo. Who was to blame? Federal government and naval officials found in Pilot Mackey a convenient target for public anger. Charged with manslaughter, he was imprisoned, villainized in the press, and denied his pilot's license even after the charges were dropped. A century later he is still unfairly linked to the tragedy. Through interviews with Mackey's relatives, transcripts, letters, and newly exposed government documents, author Janet Maybee explores the circumstances leading up to the Halifax Explosion, the question of fault, and the impact on the pilot and his family of the unjust, deliberate persecution that followed.

41 review for Aftershock: The Halifax Explosion and the Persecution of Pilot Francis Mackey

  1. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is not another rehash of the Halifax Explosion, but rather an argument for the exoneration of Francis Mackay who was the marine pilot aboard the Mont Blanc the morning of the explosion. One of the theories for blaming Mackay for the accident was he survived. The captain and the pilot aboard the Imo both died in the explosion so they couldn't be questioned. Another theory for blaming Mackay was that Ottawa didn't want to take any responsibility for it's actions (or inactions). There also see This is not another rehash of the Halifax Explosion, but rather an argument for the exoneration of Francis Mackay who was the marine pilot aboard the Mont Blanc the morning of the explosion. One of the theories for blaming Mackay for the accident was he survived. The captain and the pilot aboard the Imo both died in the explosion so they couldn't be questioned. Another theory for blaming Mackay was that Ottawa didn't want to take any responsibility for it's actions (or inactions). There also seemed to be a few officials who had no interest in returning Mackay's licence even though he had been found innocent by the Supreme Court and the Privy Council. Unfortunately much of the court of public opinion was against Mackay because they wanted someone to blame. In the end he got his licence back after four years but the stigma affected him and his family for many years afterwards/

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Fisher

    A different perspective on the Halifax explosion, and one written to clear Pilot Mackey's besmirched name once and for all. I really enjoyed reading this book, since it looked at the Explosion from a different angle and it centers, not so much on the tragic incident itself, but on the major characters involved and the backroom politics in Ottawa that kept the cloud of guilt hanging over Mackey's head long after several courts had cleared him of any wrongdoing. Highly recommend based on the autho A different perspective on the Halifax explosion, and one written to clear Pilot Mackey's besmirched name once and for all. I really enjoyed reading this book, since it looked at the Explosion from a different angle and it centers, not so much on the tragic incident itself, but on the major characters involved and the backroom politics in Ottawa that kept the cloud of guilt hanging over Mackey's head long after several courts had cleared him of any wrongdoing. Highly recommend based on the authoritative research done by Ms. Maybee and her logical presentation of the facts surrounding Pilot Francis Mackey and the Halifax Explosion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lana Shupe

    This account of the Halifax Explosion of 1917 brought to light many facts, and sadly fictions, that have surrounded an aspect of that fateful day that I had never considered. An important book for research purposes, but also for historical records that have never before been publicly known. Well researched. Hearing from Pilot Francis Mackey's own daughter was a moving experience. How politics played a part in the vilification of her father and the personal impact that had on him and her family wa This account of the Halifax Explosion of 1917 brought to light many facts, and sadly fictions, that have surrounded an aspect of that fateful day that I had never considered. An important book for research purposes, but also for historical records that have never before been publicly known. Well researched. Hearing from Pilot Francis Mackey's own daughter was a moving experience. How politics played a part in the vilification of her father and the personal impact that had on him and her family was saddening. Glad to have read this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deidra Witschorke

    Read while returning on the ferry from NS. Excellent historical information and insight into this disaster and the response. Highly recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peggy Walt

    Loved it, and congrats to Janet Maybee on her recent Atlantic Book Awards win!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Travis

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Mackenzie jr.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Duncan

  9. 4 out of 5

    A Thompson

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lex

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nimbus Publishing

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gerry Comeau

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gerry Moss

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cordelia

  17. 4 out of 5

    Larry

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin W

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Barden

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gurcan Gercek

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Lobban

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan Turner

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Benn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Bedford

  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Coolen

  32. 5 out of 5

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  33. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Smith

  34. 5 out of 5

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  35. 5 out of 5

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  36. 4 out of 5

    Danny Dutcher

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Stacey

  38. 5 out of 5

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  39. 5 out of 5

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  40. 5 out of 5

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  41. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

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