The explosion was so enormous, it killed 2,000 people and erupted into a mushroom cloud long before the Manhattan Project–and John U. Bacon writes about how and why it happened in The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Bacon describes the horrible events of December 6, 1917 as well as what lessons the disaster holds for us today. He also explains how his interest in this story began through his love of hockey.

Happy Halloween! This episode of The Bookmonger features a 10-minute conversation with Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Why has Shelley’s novel endured for two centuries? What does its fame owe to Boris Karloff and the movies? Does it hold any special lessons in our age of rapid scientific and technological advances?

Antonin Scalia was not merely a great legal mind, he was also a great writer–as Christopher J. Scalia reveals in Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, a collection of speeches by his late father (and co-edited with Edward Whelan).

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Scalia describes assembling this book from his father’s papers, how the elder Scalia learned to write so well and on so many topics (from the value of the arts to the wonders of turkey hunting), and on his surprising friendship with fellow Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

World War II was in fact many wars, writes Victor Davis Hanson in The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Hanson describes why he avoided writing yet another chronological or operational history of World War II, how the Allies were able to suffer so many casualties and still win, and why better statesmanship in the 1930s might have prevented this terrible conflict from erupting.

Understanding Ukraine today is impossible without also understanding what the Soviet Union did to it in the 1930, says Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Applebaum describes Stalin’s act of mass murder against the Ukrainian people, how knowledge of this enormity slowly seeped into the West, and how its aftereffects continue to influence Ukraine’s present confrontation with Russia.

Who were the Maya and what did they believe? Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos explains in Art and Myth of the Ancient Maya.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Chinchilla describes what compelled him to devote his professional life to the study of these ancient people, what the images they put on vases and murals tells us about them, and why they become a “lost civilization.”

How did a woman who loved poetry as a student at Hillsdale College become one of the 20th century’s great cryptanalysts? Jason Fagone tells the remarkable story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman in The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America’s Enemies.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Fagone describes how fondness for Shakespeare turned a young woman into a codebreaker, how she hunted fascist agents during the Second World War, and how she and her husband were present at the creation of the National Security Agency.

Becoming a papal biographer will change your life–or so it seems, judging from George Weigel‘s Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Weigel defends his claim that the late pope was “the emblematic figure of the second half of the 20th century,” and suggests what he might say to Americans in 2017, if he could give one more homily.

It’s a novel of faith, freedom, and forgiveness says John E. Kramer, author of Blythe.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Kramer explains how and why he wrote the book, whether fiction can accomplish goals that nonfiction cannot, and why he picked this for an epigraph: “One of mankind’s greatest sins is inaction in the face of injustice.”

Was he a kind man who did his best for Russia or a reactionary tyrant who despised the Russian people? Robert Service takes on both of these questions in The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Service describes the revolution of 1917 as well as the execution of Nicholas and his family in 1918. He also addresses rumors that members of the Romanov family may have survived and what Americans in 2017 can learn about Russia today from its history.

Kyle Mills continues the story of American assassin Mitch Rapp, the hero invented by the late Vince Flynn, in Enemy of the State.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Mills describes his unusual collaboration with an author who died four years ago, what it’s like to continue a series started by another writer, and how much research goes into each of his thrillers.

America in the late 19th century looks a lot like the America of 2017, says Richard White, author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, White discusses what drew him to write about “historical flyover country,” why Reconstruction went so poorly, and whether President Lincoln might have made things turn out differently if he had lived past 1865.

Studies of Paul may be the liveliest area of biblical scholarship today, says Paula Fredriksen, author of Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Fredriksen describes why Paul was so important to early Christianity, how we know what we know about his life and times, whether he’d be surprised that the end times still have not come, and what he must have been like to meet in person.

Was Churchill a drunk? Richard M. Langworth insists he wasn’t in Winston Churchill, Myth and Reality: What He Actually Did and Said.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Langworth describes Churchill’s drinking habits and addresses the accusations that Churchill exacerbated the 1943 famine in Bengal. He also recommends biographies of Churchill and offers his assessment of the new film Dunkirk.

Americans in the 21st century can learn a lot from an Elizabethan Englishman who wrote about classical Rome. That’s what Paul A. Cantor says in Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Cantor describes what he’s learned about Shakespeare over a lifetime of teaching his works, what he thinks of the recent production of “Julius Casear” that features a decapitation of a Trump-like character, and why he believes “Breaking Bad” is the greatest TV show of all time.

Edwin Stanton was President Lincoln’s indispensable man, says Walter Stahr, author of Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Stahr explains how Stanton helped the Union achieve victory, whether he was wrong to arrest draft dodgers and journalists, and why Stahr writes that he “was not a good man, but he was a great man.” He also takes aim at the conspiracy theorists who claim that Stanton help plot Lincoln’s murder.

Flannery O’Connor was a great writer of literature, but was she also a political figure? That’s the claim of Henry T. Edmondson III, editor of A Political Companion to Flannery O’Connor.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Edmondson explains why people still enjoy O’Connor’s work today, why conservatives hold her in special regard, and how she and Russell Kirk shared a concern over “misguided humanitarianism.” For those new to O’Connor, Edmondson also suggests a couple of places to start reading.

In his new book, False Black Power?, Jason L. Riley says that the civil-rights movement made a mistake when it choose political advancement over economic opportunity.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Riley explains why the political success of African Americans hasn’t translated into gains in human capital, what black politics should aim to accomplish in the 21st century, and why he put a question mark in his book’s title.

He was once “one of the most widely known American writers at home and abroad,” writes Christoph Ir>mscher in his new biography, Max Eastman: A Life. So whatever happened to Max Eastman?

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Irmscher describes the life of Eastman (1883-1969), a public intellectual who started out as a political radical but then moved to the right, eventually becoming a contributor to National Review. He suggests that Eastman was the Christopher Hitchens of his time and makes the case for rediscovering Eastman today.

Carl Cannon writes about “the degraded conditions of our dysfunctional, rude, hair-on-fire politics”–but also says they’ve been pretty bad before, in On This Date: Discovering America One Day at a Time.

In a 10-minute conversation with the Bookmonger, Cannon describes how this book was born from the morning emails he writes as Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics, how he tells the story of America with an unconventional narrative, and why being American comes to us as a gift but turns into an obligation.