Surreal antidote to Twitter news feed
The Year It All Fell Down
By Bob Ellis With Damian Spruce and Stephen Ramsey Viking, 264pp, $29.99
MUCH like 1956 or 1989, 2011 was a year of mega news, when each week seemingly produced the kind of tumble of events that would ordinarily keep newsrooms occupied for months.
On their own, the Arab Spring, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the Christchurch earthquake, the Breivik massacre in Oslo, the Occupy movement and the Queensland floods would have made for an unusually chaotic news year. But there were also the London riots, the closure of the News of the World, the royal wedding, the strange affair of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the attack on the Kabul Inter-Continental, the loss of the US’s triple-A credit rating, the deaths of Elizabeth Taylor, Vaclav Havel, Amy Winehouse and Steve Jobs, and, of course, the killing of Muammar Gaddafi and Osama bin Laden.
Even the final weeks of December, when journalists’ thoughts usually turn to the newsroom Christmas party, brought no letup. Small wonder that on December 17, when the news came that the North Korean dictator had died, at least one weary anchor referred to him as Kim Jong the Second.
In his latest book, a news digest entitled The Year It All Fell Down, Bob Ellis revisits these world-altering events. He writes evocatively of major episodes such as the Japanese tsunami, and reminds us how extraordinary it was to see them unfold in real-time.
‘‘ It was a God’s-eye view of unfolding calamity, simultaneous with the event,’’ he writes of Japanese broadcaster NHK’s helicopter-mounted high definition cameras, ‘‘ unlike any thus far in world history’’. His description of ‘‘ cars tumbling over a sea-