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About this book
- Finalist for the Best Trade Non-Fiction Award at the 2014 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
On a warm spring day in June of 1914, two hundred and thirty-five men went down into the depths of the Hillcrest mine. Only forty-six would make it out alive by day's end.
In The Devil's Breath, the fateful tale of the worst mining disaster in Canadian history, the Hillcrest Mine explosion, has finally been captured in astounding detail. Author Steve Hanon provides a deft examination of the coal mining industry in a province just on the cusp of entering the Great War, with startling recollections of heroism and human courage in the face of overwhelming calamity.
The Devil's Breath weaves a diverse tapestry of the owners and workers at Hillcrest, illuminating possible causes for the disaster and demonstrating the lasting effects that it had on those who survived, while also educating readers on the techniques used to wrench coal from the bowels of the earth during the period.
While only ruins of the original mine now remain in Alberta's still-scarred Crowsnest Pass region, The Devil's Breath brings this sadly-forgotten chapter of the province's history back into the light. Includes thirty-four archival photos, mining blueprints, a timeline of events and a glossary of mining terms.
“Stephen Hanon has done much more than write the most comprehensive history of the Hillcrest Mine disaster-he has set the tragedy in its historical context. Richly sourced and amply illustrated, The Devil's Breath fills a void in the published history of this country.”
"Superbly written, "The Devil's Breath: The Story of the Hillcrest Mine Disaster of 1914" is highly recommended and informative reading." (full review)
"Well-illustrated, written with an eye for detail, and comprehensive, The Devil's Breath is not just a disaster story, but a history of Canada's coal industry and an invitation to go deep under the ground where calamity awaits."
"Hanon did not set out to write a new story set in the context of Hillcrest, but to clear away the coal dust and give us a good look at the original story. That he does admirably." (full review)
"Hanon provides a thorough account that is informative while including gripping tales of human courage." full review