by Joel Zemel Book : Biography
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Scapegoat, the winner of the 2014 Dartmouth Book Award for non-fiction, is a unique telling of the legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Joel Zemel utilizes the first-hand courtroom testimony of the officers and men of S/S Mont Blanc and S/S Imo as well as Royal Canadian Navy personnel and other key witnesses to describe the events leading up to the disaster and beyond.
The film documentary editing style of the author brings an immediacy to the events as if they were happening in real-time as the reader is placed on the decks of the ships, in the wheelhouses and on the adjacent Halifax and Dartmouth shores as the tragedy unfolds.
The courtroom dramas following the explosion are also brought to life with the same techniques as the evolution of the scapegoating of Captain Le Médec, Pilot Francis Mackey and the chief examining officer of the port, Acting Commander F. Evan Wyatt becomes apparent.
Many enduring questions are answered and many myths dispelled. Scapegoat is an enjoyable and informative reading experience that ultimately shows human reactions to tumultuous events are, at the very least, consistent throughout time - whether the distant past or present day.
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