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Tall Man: A Death in Aboriginal Australia

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,726 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
In 2004 on Palm Island, an Aboriginal settlement in the "Deep North" of Australia, a thirty-six-year-old man named Cameron Doomadgee was arrested for swearing at a white police officer. Forty minutes later he was dead in the jailhouse. The police claimed he'd tripped on a step, but his liver was ruptured. The main suspect was Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley, a charismat ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 19th 2014 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nancy Oakes
May 23, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca McNutt
This Australian true crime novel about police brutality and the corruption in the law enforcement system, to the point where the life of an innocent human being was ended, was well-researched, emotional and gripping from the beginning to the end.
Sarah Clement
Feb 07, 2012 Sarah Clement rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Until I met Boe, I’d never even heard of Palm Island.’

Palm Island lies off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The Island is roughly half way between Brisbane and the tip of Cape York. Palm Island, home to many Indigenous people, is a settlement with a troubled history.

On 19 November 2004, Cameron Domadgee was arrested on Palm Island by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. He may have been arrested for swearing at the police, he may have been arrested for singing ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ (a one-hit won
...more
Sonia
Nov 29, 2012 Sonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
...more
Robin Hemley
Jul 18, 2009 Robin Hemley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kate
Sep 14, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Daniel
Apr 17, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
devastating
Jürgen Zeller
Mar 18, 2017 Jürgen Zeller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das ungewöhnliche aber auffallende Cover und die Kurzbeschreibung haben mich letzten Herbst zum Kauf dieses Buches animiert und nachdem es fünf Monate auf dem Stapel ungelesener Bücher verbracht hat, habe ich es endlich zur Hand genommen und den ausführlichen Tatsachenroman rund um den durch Polizeigewalt zu Tode gekommen Aborigine Cameron Doomadgee und den mutmasslichen Täter Christopher Hurley gelesen. In den Nachrichten sehen/lesen/hören wir Europäer immer wieder von Tötungsdelikten aus den U ...more
Jennifer
Dec 09, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Havers
May 18, 2016 Havers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„Der große Mann: Leben und Sterben auf Palm Island“ ist im Original bereits 2008 erschienen und wurde mit zahlreichen Preisen ausgezeichnet. Nun ist diese Reportage, dem Verlag Liebeskind sei Dank, endlich auch ihn deutscher Übersetzung erhältlich. Die Geschichte, die die australische Autorin Chloe Hooper darin erzählt, beruht auf einem tatsächlichen Ereignis, ist aber weit mehr als die Schilderung eines gewaltsamen Todes und des nachfolgenden Prozesses.

Der Vorfall trägt sich im November 2004 au
...more
Lee Kofman
I can’t say exactly that I enjoyed this book. Rather, I can say it was an important book for me to read. A bit like eating lettuce - not exciting but good for you. Some of the stuff there absolutely devastated me, particularly the horrific violence of Indigenous men towards women.
I really loved reading about aboriginal mythology and history. However, something didn’t feel genuine enough in the writing – chiefly because there wasn’t an attempt to portray the victim even though the writer had a m
...more
Felicity
Nov 30, 2009 Felicity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Weavre
May 02, 2009 Weavre rated it it was amazing  ·  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
...more
Jenny
Feb 01, 2016 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Six stars. So well written and a good mix of historical detail with the more recent events of Cameron Doomadgee's death in custody. Kids should be reading this in school. Hooper touches on the problems that confront police working in remote communities as well as why some of those problems occur. So many Australians still use the "It happened so long ago, why can't they just get over it?" argument to dismiss complaints by Indigenous Australians. However, children were still being taken from pare ...more
Julia
Jul 18, 2013 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Eli
Sep 05, 2012 Eli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amanda
Sep 25, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Allie
Feb 29, 2016 Allie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a chilling, devastating book. It left me reeling - I don't even know what to write.

There are so many deeply disturbing things about Australia and indigenous relations, law enforcement, the legal system.. so many things. We like to believe that things like Doomadgee's death just wouldn't happen "these days", that we've somehow moved forward as a society. I don't believe it for a second, and this book just re-affirmed it.

This book ought to be required reading for any high school student i
...more
Sean Kennedy
Dec 30, 2014 Sean Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A damning, heart wrenching book everybody should read. Especially as, years on, it is still horribly relevant. Julieka Dhu was only 22 when she died in custody late last year in WA, for unpaid fines. She died of blood poisoning - as she asked for help she was ignored or laughed at. I leave this image used at the protests in her name. Nothing ever changes.

description
Jeanne
Jun 01, 2010 Jeanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I knew very little about Australia's treatment of the Aboriginal people and this story intrigued me. I did learn about the shame of Australia, but I did not feel that I got to know the Aboriginal people who were so integral to the story. They remained merely character sketches and I found that quite disappointing. I also found myself confused by the many characters and their family trees. For me, the author did not describe the individuality of each person - they remained indistinct.
Izzy
Mar 14, 2013 Izzy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
I'm surprised by all the glowing reviews this book gets. I had high hopes when I set about reading this in my Literature class. Unfortunatly I ended up dragging myself through a heavily bloated news artical. I would honestly find burning The Tall Man more interesting than reading it.
Mary Playford
Feb 15, 2016 Mary Playford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5

Review to come
Julie
This account left me with more questions than answers. Such a complex situation with no obviously viable solution for anyone. Where do we start?
Samantha Brown
Aug 07, 2013 Samantha Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite and devastating.
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
Gina
Mar 10, 2017 Gina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book is about historical responsibility as much as it is about the case it is based on. While Chris Hurley's defense attorney says that the trial is not about Aboriginal rights but about one day and one act, it is both true and false. Before Cameron Doomadgee's death, Hurley seemed on the verge of breaking at least one of the standard racial Australian archetypes, but fell into the police line that is so familiar in the U.S. Hooper never gets to talk to him, but because the case quickly bec ...more
Dark Matter
Mar 04, 2013 Dark Matter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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. http://www.darkmatterzine.com.

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
...more
Jane
Jan 21, 2017 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Delicate, suspenseful even though I knew the outcome
Le koala Lit
Sep 11, 2012 Le koala Lit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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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
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