With this 10 year milestone in mind, I wanted to read some material related to the event and turned to Patrick Lindsay's biography of Peter Hughes, in Back From The Dead - Peter Hughes' Story of Survival and Hope After Bali.
Peter Hughes was interviewed (you can watch the interview below) in hospital immediately after the bombing and despite his obvious burns and poor physical condition he diverted attention away from himself with his: 'I'm alright, there's plenty of people worse off than me' attitude. It was this attitude that made an impression on the memory of many Australians and ensured Peter was to become irrevocably linked to the Bali bombings.
In fact Peter was so badly burned and his face was so swollen that he was mistaken for a Maori rugby player and his own son watching the interview footage didn't recognise him.
Patrick Lindsay introduces us to Peter, his son Leigh, a few of Pete's friends and takes us back to Bali before the bombings to step us through the planning of the devastating terrorist act. Leigh kept a diary during his Dad's hospitalisation and excerpts are incorporated throughout the book which make for very real and confronting reading. Lindsay has also interviewed Pete's mates and fellow survivors of the bombings and included their survival stories as well.
Back From The Dead is inspirational and deeply moving. Reading it makes you feel proud to be Australian as you read about medical staff pulling together and volunteering during the crisis, the incredible journalism and of course Pete's fight for life, dying and coming back to life three times.
There was one particular segment that really stuck with me though, when Pete is talking about being bathed twice a day by the nurses, and how they had to be cruel to be kind on page 219:
"...But I knew that they had to do it and a lot of time they were crying because they were doing it, you know, you could see it in their faces. They weren't happy doing it but they had to block it out. The nurses were just incredible people."Amazing and inspirational for anyone suffering from chronic pain or a setback. Surprisingly Peter Hughes doesn't harbour bitterness, anger or a desire for revenge over the Bali bombings and makes a brilliant role model for many Australians. Thoroughly recommended.
My rating = *****
Click here to read the interview Patrick did with Carpe Librum.