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  • When the Dust Settles

  • Stories of Love, Loss and Hope from an Expert in Disaster
  • By: Lucy Easthope
  • Narrated by: Lucy Easthope
  • Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (208 ratings)

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When the Dust Settles

By: Lucy Easthope
Narrated by: Lucy Easthope
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Summary

Lucy Easthope lives with disaster every day. When a plane crashes, a bomb explodes, a city floods or a pandemic begins, she's the one they call.

As one of the world's leading experts on disaster, she has been at the centre of the most seismic events of the last few decades - advising on everything from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami to the 7/7 bombings, the Salisbury poisonings, the Grenfell fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She has travelled across the world in this unusual role, seeing the very worst that people have to face and finding that even the most extreme of situations, we find the very best of humanity. In her moving memoir, she reveals what happens in the aftermath. She takes us behind the police tape to scenes of destruction and chaos, introducing us to victims and their families, but also to the government briefing rooms and bunkers, where confusion and stale biscuits can reign supreme.

With wisdom, resilience and candour, When the Dust Settles looks back at a life spent on the edges of disaster and shows us that where there is terrible tragedy there is also great hope and that humanity and humour can - and must - still be found on the darkest of days.

©2022 Lucy Easthope (P)2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about When the Dust Settles

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Humbling and Reassuring

Here speaks one of those 'experts' so feared and derided by our government during the pandemic. Years of experience of the most difficult kind, meticulously analysed data and focussed humane attentiveness to human behaviour in and after disasters of all kinds gives Lucy Easthope a unique degree of clarity and understanding. Her expert advice would have helped us avoid many of our most dubious responses to the pandemic as it unfolded. There was nothing intrinsically different about our pandemic from other Covid-type pandemics elsewhere. The one person we needed to help our govt make the many difficult decisions needed from March 2020 onwards was either ignored or listened to with bad grace. I'm so glad to have read this and wish the author continuing success and wide recognition for her enormous contribution to our world.

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That rare thing, a must-read

This is a wonderful, moving book that I imagine will stick long in the memory. Lucy Easthope is a disaster planner, one of the hidden squadron of people who try to prepare our communities for the worst. After a disaster, someone has to figure out where to put the bodies, how to identify the dead, what to do with little personal momentoes, how to help the community response.
It's a singular career and vocation, no doubt attracting rather singular and special people. (She shares how both her aunt and uncle were coroners and she did work experience with them as a young woman, when others of us are manning photocopiers or working as cleaners' assistants.)

The book is actually a road-trip around most of the headline-grabbing disasters of the past couple of decades, the tsunami and 7/7 and Grenfell Tower and a last, rather provisional, chapter about global pandemic. Lucy turns up at them all. Sometimes disasters happen around her, or just after (as at Grenfell) she has delivered training on the subject (the Grenfell training was criticized as too grim and unrealistic). Sprinkled throughout are some of her own personal griefs around child-bearing and infirmity. Reading it you could be forgiven for thinking that if you ever did come across Lucy Easthope socially, it would mean something terrible was either about to happen or just had happened, and you might be tempted to cross the road and meet someone else instead. But that would be a loss.

It helps that Lucy Easthope is a gifted writer, avoiding the danger of overwriting, and (we heard the audio version) a careful and sensitive reader with, as it happens, a lovely voice.

I don't think I have every cried so much reading a book (and that is not why I read books). Nor do I usually feel about a book that the world would be a rather better place if everyone read it. But her words on the tender care of the dead and the grieving and the traumatized, on the scandal of emergency planning falling victim to government cuts, on the likelihood that leadership will tend to fail to listen, and on the great worth of small acts like providing showers and clothes and cups of tea make this a book to put somewhere on your reading or listening list, whoever you are. It's really good.

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honest and outstanding

We are in a world where we are encouraged to be stricken with debilitating PTSD from a bad shopping trip or if someone says something bad about us in social media, at the same time many of us at trying to keep it together in the real world, as well as working for example, in the emergency services. Thank you for the honesty of your thoughts and experiences, whilst battling with ethics with no defined boundaries.

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Optimism in disaster

I thought this might be too gruesome when I first started to listen. I shed a few tears along the way. But ultimately it was a fascinating and hopeful true story. I enjoyed the contrast between Lucy’s personal life and it’s ups and downs and the international event and disasters that we have mainly heard of but not been directly affected by. I would recommend to any teenager or adult - really a useful insight into what life may bring you.

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I really enjoyed this

A really great, enjoyable listen. Thought-provoking and very interesting. I would really recommend this to anyone interested in disaster or related subjects.

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Enlightening & compelling

An unforgetable account of the human experience of disaster & the interventions that can & should ease the path of victims, survivors & those left behind. Lucy’s commitment to the art & science of her role & her understanding of the traumas of hiraeth should be acknowledged & upheld as benchmarks for all future management.

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Brilliant book

it can be a bit unrelenting at times but it is told in such a human and compassionate way. A deep understanding of disaster management from an obvious expert. Along the way a real indictment of the current government and the wayvthey have abandoned good practice built up over decades. An important book and very well narrated by Lucy herself.

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Excellent

An excellent book that takes you into this challenging profession. I would recommend. I learnt a lot from this book and look forward to reading other works in the future by the author.

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Wonderfully thought provoking

What an incredible and moving book. Thank you Lucy for all you have done for the thousands of people who cannot say thank you.

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A story from the heart

This book covers so many disasters of our modern times, and some personal disasters right from the heart with so much compassion. Such an engaging listen that when I got to the end I went right back to the beginning for another listen.