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Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,063 Ratings  ·  187 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
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Scribner Book Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nancy Oakes
May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Elaine Searle
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be compelling reading and a "must read" for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of our Indigenous peoples and how European settlement has impacted on their culture and lifestyle. Answers - maybe not. Understanding of the problems - helpful.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Robin Hemley
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Lee Kofman
Dec 27, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2016 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
Sep 14, 2014 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
Feb 29, 2016 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
Jürgen Zeller
Mar 18, 2017 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
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tall Man is absolutely essential reading for every single Australian!
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary, harsh review of events on Palm Island. Compelling reading
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 18, 2016 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
Matthew Hickey
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
Jan 07, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Harrison Vesey
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As an Australian, it's impossible to recommend this book highly enough. It speaks powerfully and unflinchingly to the grave racial injustice ongoing in this beautiful but deeply flawed nation.
Chloe Hooper is a stunningly gifted writer and a brilliant journalist, who poured her heart and mind into this moving novel. The incredible amount of research that went into the reporting is matched by the care Hooper has for the family of Cameron Domadgee and the Aboriginal people of Palm Island. Her rare
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a powerful, thought-provoking read. In her investigation of the death of Cameron Doomadgee, the author has gone beyond the facts of the inquest and court case and delved into the history of Palm Island and the treatment of Aboriginal Australians in an attempt to provide context for the challenges faced by Palm Island residents. The result is compelling and tragic, illustrating the very real effects of intergenerational trauma. The writing is crisp and engaging, and draws a powerful pict ...more
Sean Kennedy
Dec 30, 2014 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.

Mar 14, 2013 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 rated it really liked it

Review to come
This account left me with more questions than answers. Such a complex situation with no obviously viable solution for anyone. Where do we start?
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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

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