SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM’S WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY – BOOK REVIEW

Cyclone Tracy was and still is one of the greatest disasters to hit our wee Australian shores, it was an epic tragedy that flattened Darwin, the worst part, it all happened on Christmas eve, way back in 1974. It is about to have its 40th anniversary and in perfect timing author Sophie Cunningham has recently (July) released this brilliant book. Sophie Cunningham is the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008) and the non-fiction Melbourne (UNSW Press, 2011). She is a former editor of Meanjin and was until recently the chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board. She knows how to write. I love tales of adversity, I love disaster stories, and I love the human spirit, I always have a book to read for Christmas day, usually finish it on Boxing Day and to honour those lost on the 40th anniversary this will be my book of choice. Kernel Paul Fellows reviews and enjoys. Sophie Cunningham’s WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY is out now – it is released from Text Publishing and you can buy it HERE. If you want an awesome stocking filler and/ or love your non-fiction, or history, then this is the one!! All the best…..JK.

 

WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY BOOK COVER IMAGE
WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY | SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | BOOK COVER

 

REVIEW BY PAUL FELLOWS

December 24, 1974 is a day that will never be forgotten by the people of Darwin. As the rest of Australia was celebrating the start to the holiday season, Cyclone Tracy tore through the city of Darwin, creating mass devastation changing many lives forever. As we draw near to the 40th anniversary of this iconic event in Australian history, it seems the perfect time to reflect on this event with the new book by Sophie Cunningham, WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY.

Australia had never seen a natural disaster like it with such destruction to the city and it’s inhabitants;

* 75 people died with hundreds more injured.

* 12,000 homes were destroyed.

* Public buildings were damaged.

* 30,000 people were airlifted from Darwin, most of whom never returned.

 

WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM IMAGE
WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY | SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM

 

Looking at these figures and the images of a flattened Darwin makes us wonder what it was really like to be there? How did it feel to be hiding in your house listening to wind rip it apart? Like 10 year old Bernard Briec, would you have been thinking, “everyone’s dead and we’re the only people who survived?”

Combining historical fact, journalism, and human emotion, author Sophie Cunningham has written a compelling and gripping book. If you are a fan of history, as I am (especially that of Australian history), then, WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY is a ‘must read’. The author covers all aspects of the disaster, from the first-hand experiences of the locals to the political and financial aftermath. The images presented in the book, of cars in pools, completely ruined streets and people being evacuated in Air Force planes are startling and are a perfect compliment to help propel the narrative.

 

WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY DEVASTATION IMAGE
WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY | SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | DEVASTATION

 

Having been to Darwin a few years ago, I find it amazing to think that the majority of the city had to be rebuilt to create the vibrant place it is today. While reading the book I was reminded of an exhibition I saw in Darwin about Cyclone Tracy. There was an interactive part where you went into a small, pitch black room and heard the sound of the winds that accompanied Cyclone Tracy. It was a loud and frightening experience that would have been terrifying to live through.

WARNING: THE STORY OF CYCLONE TRACY is a brilliant book and on the anniversary of such devastation, it is a timely reminder to cherish everything you have in your life because in one night it could all be blown away.

 

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