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Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 7, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

In 2004, in a remote Aboriginal community in northern Australia, Cameron Doomadgee, a drunk young indigenous man, was arrested and, a few hours later, died in his prison cell. A witness claimed that the six-foot-seven-inch arresting officer beat Doomadgee to death. The officer claimed that Doomadgee fell accidentally and that the extent of his injuries (which included broken ribs and a ruptured liver) wasn’t apparent. Through the story of the manslaughter trial, Hooper lays bare Australia’s institutional racism and the grim conditions of Aboriginal life there. A novelist, she finds a muscular music even when confronting sordid truths. Describing a desolate indigenous settlement, she recalls Aboriginal myth: “beer cans lay by the river’s edge, their red-and-green aluminum shimmering in the sun; a nightmare incarnation of the Rainbow Serpent.”
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that Tall Man is true-crime journalism at its finest. While Hooper, who admittedly knew little about Aboriginal life before researching the topic, focuses much of the book on the manslaughter trial, she tells a much wider story about centuries of Aboriginal life, government policies, and historic injustices. Thoughtful and compassionate, the book is also fast paced as Hooper becomes immersed in the community on Palm Island, especially in the Doomadgee clan. While she didn’t have access to Hurley, she talked to his colleagues in order to try to understand all perspectives of the story. In the end, Hooper concludes, “I had wanted to know more about my country, and now I did—now I knew more than I wanted to.”
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416561595
  • ASIN: B003D7JWWE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,286,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

One afternoon Officer Hurley takes an inebriated Cameron Doomadgee into custody.
NyiNya
Several times while reading this book I had to remind myself that these events were shockingly recent.
Teahouse Fox
Ms. Hooper has a writing style that is crisp and clear-every sentence she uses is informative.
L. Jonsson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue VINE VOICE on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Tall Man," by Chloe Hooper, is a rare bird, indeed, a non-fiction work of passion and power. It is set in Palm Island; an aboriginal settlement in the "Deep North" of Australia, and concerns the death in police custody of the 36-year old Aboriginal Cameron Doomadgee, who was arrested by a white police officer, Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley, for swearing in his direction; was taken to the police lockup, and was dead 40 minutes later. Doomadgee, who was drunk at the time, had apparently been beaten to death. Hurley, a charismatic and popular cop who had chosen to spend most of his career in the aboriginal precincts that his coworkers wouldn't voluntarily go near, was always the chief suspect. But Hurley was fiercely protected by his own; apparently the thin blue line is universal. He was never convicted of the Aboriginal's death.

Author Hooper is the author of a highly praised 2002 novel, ("A Child's Book of True Crime") that was named a "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize. Excerpts from her award-winning investigation of the Doomadgee case have appeared in "The Observer," and "The Guardian Weekly." She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and was asked to write about the Doomadgee case by the pro bono lawyer who represented his family; she spent three years on it, researching the brutal history of Australia's whites, and its native population. Generations of white policymakers did their best to break up Aboriginal families, deprive them of work, and isolate them. The results can be seen only too clearly in Palm Island, colonized by children taken from their families and thrown into dormitories.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Chloe Hooper combines gripping narrative with harrowing reportage to convey an act of violence in a land of stunning brutality. When an Aboriginal man dies in custody on an island off Australia's Queensland coast, the event becomes national news after a pathologist renders a flippant report and the white police want to write off the event, so the locals riot. It has been a long time since a book has moved me as deeply as this book does.

On Friday, November 19, 2004, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, at the end of his second year in the Aboriginal settlement at Palm Island, arrested Cameron Doomadgee for cursing at him and another officer. Doomadgee was drunk at ten in the morning. Forty minutes later, Doomadgee was dead, with injuries consistent with a massive car crash. Hooper tries to reconstruct those forty minutes, and the legal wrangling that lasts for nearly three years afterward.

In Hooper's heartrending language, Palm Island mixes the worst aspects of an Indian reservation, a penal colony, and Hell. Though Hooper conducts her reportage with the help of Doomadgee's family, her frankness creates a world of moral compromise, stunning melding of honorable and shameful traits, and a people wracked with generations of pain and abjection. There is enough in this book to stun and appall anybody of any social or political point of view.

Sergeant Hurley comes across one moment as a sterling lawman who builds bridges between white government and poor black Aborigines, then as an evasive, angry bigot. Cameron Doomadgee is a loving father and leader, and at the same time a chronic drunk with a brutal temper. The trial to see who was responsible for what drags out an entire province's buried racism as well as its higher ideals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teahouse Fox VINE VOICE on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's impossible to read this book as an American and not be drawn to the sense of parallel worlds. You can't help but recall similar issues here and the impact of well-meaning missionaries on the American Indian population, the injustice, suppression and the inhumane treatment of black slaves and their struggle for civil rights.

The world of the Aborigine people of Australia unfolds in the author's tale. She came to Palm Island to document the trial surrounding the 2004 death of Cameron Doomadgee, but she found herself looking at the world of the indigenous people of the continent with new eyes.

Their plight becomes a character in Hooper's book, as real and detailed as the people she is surrounded by. The pervasive alcoholism, physical abuse of women, violence, distrust of the white authorities, mysticism and racism are palpable and place the death of Doomadgee squarely in the context of the world he lived in.

Like her assignment that should only have taken weeks, the actual murder was more than just about a white cop and a dead 'blackfella'. It was a symptom of a much bigger problem. One officer she interviews comments that the environment he lives in, among the indigenous people he is supposed to protect, has left him with the knowledge that he is a racist - and he knows enough to understand that his humanity has been diminished for it.

The horrifying thing is that the events in Tall Man didn't occur last century, or the one before. It was five years ago. Several times while reading this book I had to remind myself that these events were shockingly recent. Several things I read with a sense of disbelief that such things were still possible in a developed country.

Hooper's narrative isn't preachy, or dramatic, but understated and observant - it simply is what it is, and often it offends our sense of justice and humanity. But it seems that is exactly the target she was aiming for.
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