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Silent Shock

Silent Shock 1

The Men Behind the Thalidomide Scandal and an Australian Family's Long Road to Justice

by Michael Magazanik
Publication Date: 22/05/2015
5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $32.99 $30.75
Lyn Rowe was born in Melbourne in 1962, seven months after her mother Wendy was given a new 'wonder drug' for morning sickness called thalidomide. In 2011 Rowe launched a legal claim against the thalidomide companies. Against the odds, she won a multimillion-dollar settlement. Former journalist Michael Magazanik is one of the lawyers who ran Lyn's case; In Silent Shock he exposes a 50-year cover up concerning history's most notorious drug, and details not only the damning case against manufacturers but also the moving story of the Rowe family.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Highly recommended!

    by on

    “In August 2012 Grunenthal’s chief executive Harald Stock…expressed sincere regret at the harm caused by thalidomide, and apologised for the company’s fifty-year silence. ‘We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the silent shock that your fate has caused us’”

    Silent Shock is the first book by Australian journalist and lawyer, Michael Magazanik. As part of the legal team for thalidomider, Lyn Rowe’s action against parent drug manufacturer Grunenthal, and Australian distributor, Distillers, Michael Magazanik had access to a staggering amount of information about the whole thalidomide scandal. In this book, he tells several stories concurrently: the development and marketing of the drug by the German manufacturer; the marketing and distribution by licensees in other countries, in particular, the United Kingdom, USA and Australia; just how Lyn Rowe became a thalidomider (a story common to many of the victims); and the work and time involved in Lyn’s legal action for compensation.

    Many potential readers will think they know the story of the thalidomide scandal: this book will have a few surprises for them, as Magazanik exposes myths and concealments on a grand scale; those who have a vaguer knowledge of events will appreciate Magazanik’s thorough account of the circumstances that led to the unnecessary maiming and death of so many. And may find themselves gasping at the lies, the cover-ups and denials revealed. Many will find it hard to resist quoting facts and whole passages to those around them, or to remark on the breath-taking arrogance, the incredible greed, the lack of ethics and total amorality of those involved in the poor testing and reckless marketing of this supposedly innocuous drug.

    The (mostly unsung) heroes of the whole awful saga are many: the families and carers of thalidomiders, the whistleblowers, a certain American bureaucrat, legal teams working for thalidomiders, journalists and, of course, the thalidomiders themselves who showed great courage just getting on with their lives, not to mention persisting with legal challenges against great odds. The stringent safeguards by which researchers and marketers are now bound is something for which the world can be grateful to them. That in the present day there are still thalidomiders born in some countries will stun those who think this an issue of the past. Magazanik provides a great deal of information, but his experience as a journalist is apparent as he presents it all in easily digestible form. He includes a comprehensive index and a handy chronology of events.

    While the lack of justice and compensation for thalidomiders is disappointing, and the refusal of Grunenthal to accept responsibility or pay compensation, infuriating, Magazanik ends his account on a positive note, with a quote from Wendy Rowe: “It was the drug that damaged Lyn, pure and simple. But once it happened, it was up to us to turn it into a positive or a negative. Lyn has shown us all what grace and courage and determination are and we’re better people for it. She changed our direction in life. You’d never wish what happened to Lyn on anyone. But there was no changing it. We had to dig down and find the good in it”. This book has been accurately described as a compelling read. Highly recommended!