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The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island
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The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  999 ratings  ·  123 reviews
This is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house.

This is the story of that policeman, the tall, enigmatic Chris Hurley who chose to work in some of the toughest and wildest places in Australia, and of the struggle to bring him to trial.

Above all, The Tall Man
paperback, 276 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Penguin Group Australia
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,018)
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Nancy Oakes
In 2004, on Palm Island off the coast of Australia, Cameron Doomadgee was arrested. Palm Island is a settlement and home to many indigenous persons, and it is under the "protection" of the police. The police there are not Aboriginal people, they are regular, white Australians. Doomadgee was arrested by Sr. Sgt. Chris Hurley, ostensibly for swearing at the cops; it may well have been for singing "Who Let the Dogs Out." Either way, Doomadgee was arrested, then pushed into the police van, taken to ...more
Sarah Clement
I read this book a few years ago, not too long after I first moved to Australia, but was only reminded of it recently when a documentary was played on SBS of the same name (which included an interview with the author). This is a moving and relatively unbiased account of the actions leading to Doomadgee's death and what happened soon thereafter. It also gives you a taste of the career and character of Chris Hurley and of what life is like in remote communities such as Palm Island. To be honest, I ...more
T.D. Whittle
The copy of this book that I have had the original blue cover with a red palm leaf on it and was called "The Tall Man: Life and Death in Palm Island." I preferred that title, as it broadened the scope, which I think matters: the death of Cameron Doomadgee, tragic as it was, is also not an isolated case. There have been several such incidents of death in custody of an Aboriginal person since I have lived here in Australia. I think that the original title alluded to Palm Island's representing a mi ...more
This is the story, recounted by journalist Chloe Hooper, of the events leading up to the death of indigenous man, Cameron Doomadgee while in police custody on Palm Island and what followed. I remember the riots clearly.

This is shocking and sad both in the immediate tragedy of Mr. Doomadgee's death and the subsequent lack of justice but also in the context of the bigger picture of some aspects of the treatment of indigenous Australians. As a southerner (I'm from Melbourne) I found it almost like
Robin Hemley
A piece of reportage. Jaw-dropping in places. Like THE FATAL SHORE, it's required reading for anyone interested in the history of Australia. in some ways, Hooper's book echoes the brutality of Australia's. the English brutalized their underclass and sent them as convicts to Australia and these people and their descendants in turn brutalized the Aborigines. Hooper shows in spare, elegant prose that racism is not a legacy in Australia but a living and breathing part of everyday Australian life. th ...more
I remember the buzz around Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee when it was published but haven’t managed to read it until now. This book has given me a new appreciation for investigative journalism and I am convinced that Hooper’s book showcases very high quality of this form of writing.

The number of deaths of indigenous Australians in custody has been a prominent issue and in 2004, on Palm Island, an Aboriginal man, Cameron Doomadgee, known as Mulrunji, was arrested for verbally abusing a police o
I spent 5 years in the Red Centre of Australia, though I wasn't working specifically with Aborigines (it was a Secondary school which catered for all comers, the vast majority of whom were white), and I remember wondering whether our rule that all students had to wear shoes was racist or not. And being shocked at the conditions in the Town Camps, and even some of the houses lived in by my immediate aboriginal neighbours. The conditions at Palm Island and Doomadgee described in Tall Man make Tenn ...more
It was actually a review in the New York Times where I first read about this book. The author is Australian, but she has clearly written the book for an American audience with a lot of translation of Australian terms and concepts.

This book is about the first and only policeman ever to be charged in relation to a death in custody in an Australia jail/prison. In November 2003, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley arrested Chris Doomadgee for "public nuisance" and took him to the Palm Island Jail. Forty mi
May 07, 2009 Weavre rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Weavre by: Vine selection
If the cover blurb interests you, you'll like this book.

Journalist Chloe Hooper chronicles a pivotal series of events in the history of white/Aboriginal interaction in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is clear and descriptive, and she breathes new life into the real characters most readers will only know from the pages of her book. The Palm Island and surrounding settings are so vividly drawn that she could almost be writing ethnography, and the legal drama that unfolds is a story as gripping
I read this years ago and still find myself returning to the novel on a regular basis. It is an incredible tale depicting the horror that is living in Australia's rural and remote communities. To a certain extent I relate to Hooper, born in the secluded suburbs of Melbourne in the nation's metropolitan south one is largely immune to the lives of many indigenous Australians, all we hear are the biased reports on the news. Therefore reading Hooper's novel was an eye opener and a glimpse into Austr ...more
A great non-fiction novel who, somewhat in the vein of Capote's In Cold Blood, takes tortured justice as its main character. Set in the Torres Strait region of Australia, it explores the phenomenon of "death in custody", a euphemistic term used to denote Aborigines men who die in police custody, usually either by police assault or self-inflicted wounds. These deaths are rarely investigated in any depth, and charges are almost never pressed. It's only when Chris Hurley, an apparently upstanding w ...more
One of the most important books I have ever read!!! Definitely a must read especially for Australians. It is confronting, offensive, depressing, hopeless, frustrating, shocking, empowering, brilliant. It does not gloss over the situation on Palm Island; the alcohol abuse, the endemic violence, the awful cycle of despair, depravation and degradation. But it also exposes the corruption of the police force. I have the utmost respect for police officers and I am sure most people serve the public out ...more

I wrote the following review as a student piece in 2010, not long after first reading Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee, or as it was titled then, 'The Tall Man':

Written by Walkley award-winning journalist Chloe Hooper, The Tall Man is a highly nuanced and penetrative account of the author’s observations while on Palm Island during the inquiry into the death in police custody of Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee.

‘On 19th November 2004, a drunk Aboriginal man had been arrested for swearing at police. Les
I read this while on holiday in Townsville, QLD and north (the area the book is set in). I put off starting it for a bit because I knew the subject matter would be depressing but once I got started I was totally involved. It is a well written and very readable book, bringing together past and present. I liked the way the book is laid out, how she presents different peoples' views of events and how she moves the story forward. It really helps you understand how much the past still affects today. ...more
Samantha Brown
Exquisite and devastating.
Rob Manwaring
Blimey, this book had quite a profound effect on me, and is a searing indictment of modern day Australia. Cameron Doomadgee, an Aboriginal man, was killed in police custody by Senior Sgt Chris Hurley in 2004, and the book follows the main course of events: Doomadgee's death, the typically botched police 'investigation' (conducted by close friends of Hurley), the subsequent riot on Palm Island, the broader inquiry and the final court case against Hurley. The lack of conviction against Hurley is a ...more
Bree T
On the 19th of November in 2004 on Palm Island, an Aboriginal community on Great Palm Island off the coast of Queensland Australia, a 36 year old Aboriginal man was walking along a road, a bit under the influence. A local white police officer, Snr Sgt Chris Hurley was escorting a local Aboriginal woman back to her home to get her insulin after she had been assaulted by her de facto partner. The Aboriginal man, known as Mulrunji, abused the police officer and his partner, the police liaison offic ...more
Phase Reading
This book should be compulsory reading for all Australians and people who live in Australia.

The ugly side of race relations is shown here, warts and all, in tragic but unfortunately frequently occurring circumstances.

This is the author's account of the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee and the arresting officer, Chris Hurley accused of his death. The story is interspersed with Aboriginal beliefs and culture (old and present day) and the "culture" of the police who close ranks and harbour ing
Dark Matter
This review was written by Nalini Haynes for Dark Matter Zine. This and more reviews, interviews etc are on Dark Matter Zine, an online magazine.

The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper is narrative non-fiction focusing on Cameron Doomadgee’s death in police custody while also explaining some of the culture and history leading to the event and the exoneration of Chris Hurley, the police officer charged with manslaughter.

This harrowing and shameful period of recent Australian
The last thing THE TALL MAN needs is another review - the book is winning awards left right and centre at the moment. I must confess it wasn't a book I was particularly looking forward to reading, suspecting that the subject matter was going to be very very confronting. After it won the DAVITT AWARD from the Sisters in Crime, the judges comments on the night, were the little extra push required to make me stop dithering (well sooking really) and pick up the book.

Whilst I'm very very glad I final
Chloe Hooper’s coverage of the inquest of Cameron Doomadgee’s death while in custody at the Palm Island police station and the subsequent trial of the first police officer to be found to have a case to answer in such circumstances, is a delicate portrayal of myriad characters in the Australian remote landscape of Queensland. Coming from another state, Hooper takes the time to understand the backgrounds and influences of many of the characters in this real life drama of history as it is digested ...more
Le koala Lit
The Tall man: death and life on Palm Island (2008, Penguin)/ Grand homme: mort et vie à Palm Island (2009, Editions Christian Bourgois traduit par Antoine Cazé) est le témoignage de Chloé Hooper sur le procés du Sergent Hurley à la suite de la mort en détention de Cameron Doomadgee.

Cameron Doomadgee est un aborigène d’une trentaine d’année lorsqu’un matin de novembre 2004, il se fait arrêter par le sergent Hurley pour trouble de l’ordre public. Quelques heures plus tard Cameron est retrouvé mort
I know "In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson is supposed to be a funny travelogue and I shouldn't expect too much of it, but I still felt cheated by Bryson's toe-dip into the dangerous waters of Aboriginal history. My recollection is that he covered the issue in what felt like two paragraphs, essentially stating "it totally sucks how the white colonists screwed over the native population and society is still highly segregated today. Now let me tell you another hilarious anecdote about those wa ...more
In this exploration of the events behind the death of Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island (and the subsequent trial of Sgt Christopher Hurley for the death), Chloe Hooper reveals a clear personal bias. It's not a deliberate disclosure per se, but her personal revelations are clear enough for a critical reader to appreciate that this account is not an academic or objective one.

Hooper delivers some really interesting insights into the cultural history of Queensland aborigines and also provid
Emer Martin
Incredible look into the murder of an aborigine man in a Palm Island prison. It is also much more than that. It is a glimpse into Australian society that's unbiased and highly nuanced. This is a story of the legacy of the lost generation and the repercussions. In case you ever despair there is real magic in the writing. Chloe Hooper is a novelist and she brings a novelists sense of story and poetry and character to her non fiction work.
Kathy Stewart
A friend told me how much she had enjoyed this story and I bought the digital version on her recommendation. I wasn’t disappointed. For those who aren’t familiar with the events, this book details the tragic case involving Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and Aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee. After Doomadgee’s arrest by Hurley on Palm Island off Australia’s east coast, he is locked up in the island prison and later found dead. Hurley is deemed to be responsible and ordered to stand trial for Doomadg ...more
This is an eye opening book.

In 2004, a young Aboriginal man called Cameron Doomadgee was arrested on a remote island off the coast of Queensland for ostensibly swearing at a white policeman. Within an hour, he was dead in a police cell, his liver almost split in half, four ribs broken and his eye blackened. The police said he had suffered a fall. His family and the local community did not believe them

Journalist Chloe Hooper immerses herself in the investigation of this death in custody. She is
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 ac

Very easy to read, journalistic in approach but includes some genuinely well crafted moments of prose. Seeing that Chris Hurley, the policeman at the heart of the controversy, is never actually interviewed, it does well to portray in a even-handed manner his place within the greater context of aboriginal relations in Northern QLD.

Man explores the systematic racism in Australia. Doomadgee is arrested for public drunkenness: or was he arrested for insulting a police officer and need to be taught a lesson? Within an hour Doomadgee is dead in a police cell. His liver had been assaulted so violently that it was forced against the spine with sufficient for to tear the liver in two. Hurley, the arresting officer, claims that Doomadgee injured himself in a fall on the step into the station. The coroner’s report said that there w
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Chloe Hooper is an Australian author. Her first novel, A Child’s Book of True Crime (2002), was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Literature and was a New York Times Notable Book. In 2005, she turned to reportage and the next year won a Walkley Award for her writing on the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island, an Aboriginal community off the north-east coast of Australia. The T ...more
More about Chloe Hooper...
The Engagement A Child's Book of True Crime A Child's Book Of True Crime The Engagement: A Novel The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection

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