Title: One Punch: The tragic toll of random acts of violence
Author: Barry Dickins
Publisher: Hardie Grant, 2020
Barry Dickins is a well-known Australian author, journalist, playwright, actor, artist and educator. He is the author of numerous books – fiction, memoirs, non-fiction, collections of essays – and plays.
In 1995 he was awarded the Louis Esson Prize for Drama for his stage play Remember Ronald Ryan, and the Amnesty Prize for Peace through Art.
Barry Dickins writes of the random acts of violence perpetrated upon individuals, and looks at the gratuitous violence witnessed daily within our society. He researches ‘one punch’ deaths – whereby one punch to a victim results in their death. He describes the history of the events, the perpetrators, the court cases and the verdicts, and interviews the families of the victims.
In Barry’s search for information and understanding, he speaks with witnesses, medical staff who attend the victims of violence, school teachers, a former judge and a priest.
Unable to interview the offenders, he wonders at their remorse.
Research update: 127 Australians killed by coward punches since 2000JENNIFER SCHUMANN, VIFM/MONASH UNIVERSITY,2019
The author describes, in down-to-earth prose, the many acts of violence seen within society, including unprovoked attacks perpetrated on vulnerable people and property, and aggressive acts by motorists.
Throughout the book, Barry looks back on a safe and loving childhood and ponders the differences between those earlier years and now.
Violence touches Barry’s life when a family member, out walking with friends, is brutally attacked by a group of young men. This leaves Barry with a ‘revolving disbelief’ that anyone would want to do harm to an innocent person.
Reading this book was like sitting down with a long-time friend and listening as he tells his story in a gentle and caring way. Barry writes of the violence and trauma in such a manner the reader is not traumatised by the reading. Instead we come to an understanding of the complexity of this subject.
Barry does not offer a solution, nor does he try to solve the question of why these things are happening – for who can? But he has opened our eyes to it.
One Punch is a book that needs to be read.
Reviewed by: Linda Young
Ballarat Writers Inc. Book Review Group