The Tall Man

The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper was my best read of the summer holidays, a book I could not put down. If you love court room type investigative dramas you will love this true story.

0241015375On the 19th November 2004, Cameron Doomadgee swore at a police officer. The 36-year-old aboriginal resident of Palm Island off the coast of Queensland near Townsville was arrested by Christopher Hurley and 40 minutes later was found dead in a cell of the local police station.

In January 2007 Hurley was charged with manslaughter, the first Australian police officer to be charged over a death in custody. He was acquitted in June 2007.

With such a controversial subject, it is a pleasant surprise to discover that Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man Penguin, 2008 handles the matter with such restrained sensitivity and intelligence. (source)

I wept as I read the last chapter of this brilliant book. I know a country copper, a tall , big guy, who I know ‘roughs up’ people a bit, could he do something like this when his temper is pushed to the limit? Would you? Would I? But more than all these questions about our temper and what it can produce, I was challenged by white Australia’s attitude to our indigenous people, the first Australians. Sadly the verdict was handed down just 24 hours before Howard marched the army into the Northern Territory as part of that government’s intervention and ‘answer’ to The Little Children are Sacred report, so most of the drama of it all was lost, but I do remember the news about the riots in 2004 and subsequent reports.

Can I again recommend, for all those who think I may be a bit biased towards Australian Aboriginals, the SBS series The First Australians. You can watch online at

Oh and – Read The Tall Man


2 thoughts on “The Tall Man

  1. i read two good books on indigenous issues while at rotto last week. One was “The lamb enters the dreaming: Nathaniel Pepper and the ruptured world” and the other was “Blood, spirit and bones: Aboriginal christianity in an East-Kimberley town”.

    The first book looks at the story surrounding Nathaniel Pepper and his conversion to christianity in 1860 (at Ebeneezer Mission, Victoria). Pepper has been cited as the first Aboriginal christian convert, and while that might be hard to ascertain, the author’s (Robert Kenny) intention is look at the context of the conversion and how all parties involved may have viewed it and been affected by it.

    The second book focuses on the town of Halls Creek and the three churches in the town (AOG, UAM and catholic). This one was an interesting read for me having lived at and worked for the UAM church in focus.

    Anyhoo – lots of good reading to be had I’m sure

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