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Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music

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A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader. Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed fr A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader. Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of. In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Archie voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.  Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story. Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Non-Fiction Shortlisted for the 2020 Indie Book Awards, Non-Fiction Archie Roach is the 2020 VIC Australian of the Year  ‘Just like his early songs, Tell Me Why was written with empathy as its impetus and that intent shines through on every page. This is a phenomenal work by one of the most articulate and recognisable members of the Stolen Generations. It will be read, studied and discussed for many years to come.’ The Australian ‘Beautiful, gut-wrenching and compelling memoir’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Archie’s deeply resonant voice sings out – of a broken country and a life renewed. The voice of Australia.’ Daniel Browning, ABC journalist and producer ‘Roach is honest and humble in his oft-heartbreaking retelling of his search for identity, belonging and purpose’ Courier Mail ‘Best book of 2019: Tell Me Why by Archie Roach, a beautifully written autobiography that captures one of the most remarkable lives in Australian music’ Weekend Australian


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A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader. Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed fr A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader. Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of. In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Archie voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.  Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story. Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Non-Fiction Shortlisted for the 2020 Indie Book Awards, Non-Fiction Archie Roach is the 2020 VIC Australian of the Year  ‘Just like his early songs, Tell Me Why was written with empathy as its impetus and that intent shines through on every page. This is a phenomenal work by one of the most articulate and recognisable members of the Stolen Generations. It will be read, studied and discussed for many years to come.’ The Australian ‘Beautiful, gut-wrenching and compelling memoir’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Archie’s deeply resonant voice sings out – of a broken country and a life renewed. The voice of Australia.’ Daniel Browning, ABC journalist and producer ‘Roach is honest and humble in his oft-heartbreaking retelling of his search for identity, belonging and purpose’ Courier Mail ‘Best book of 2019: Tell Me Why by Archie Roach, a beautifully written autobiography that captures one of the most remarkable lives in Australian music’ Weekend Australian

30 review for Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

    One of my favourite books so far this year, and overall actually. Since I reached the end of this audiobook I have found myself missing listening to Archie tell his story (recorded at his kitchen table, occasionally with the sound of birds chattering in the background) and sing his songs. Archie's life is turned around when he receives a letter from his sister telling him that their mother has died, his father is also dead, but he has many siblings if they ever want to meet up (I am heavily para One of my favourite books so far this year, and overall actually. Since I reached the end of this audiobook I have found myself missing listening to Archie tell his story (recorded at his kitchen table, occasionally with the sound of birds chattering in the background) and sing his songs. Archie's life is turned around when he receives a letter from his sister telling him that their mother has died, his father is also dead, but he has many siblings if they ever want to meet up (I am heavily paraphrasing here, and one of the few downsides to audiobooks is that you cannot just flip back to copy out a quote). His life starts spinning out from here, as he realises he was forcibly removed from his family as a toddler. He leaves his foster family and begins a long journey, full of positives -- meeting his siblings, meeting the woman, Ruby Hunter, who will become his wife, the early days of his music -- and negatives -- alcoholism, displacement, homelessness and more difficulties. I found his frank description of his alcoholism fascinating and horrifying - drinking to the point of having seizures became a common experience for him. When Archie eventually seeks treatment, he recovers and then becomes a counsellor himself. He and Ruby were especially inspiring not just because they overcame their own addiction issues, but because they immediately starting giving back and continued to do so. When Archie finds success as a singer, he is genuinely torn between his music career and his work with his community. I loved the way he talked about music, and creating it. I've been listening to a lot of his songs lately, as well as Ruby's, and have been watching his "Back to Charcoal Lane" series on YouTube, which feels like a nice addition to the book. This is yet another book that I have listened to on audio (highly recommended by the way, especially because Archie sings parts of his songs, and has a lovely speaking voice as well) but also want to reread in physical form, so I can mark pages that I have quotes I especially loved. Once I have done that I will probably add more to this review! For now though, this will have to do. https://youtu.be/zqG3cXDRqgA An extract from the book: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201... And an interview: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bronwyn Mcloughlin

    So powerful and eloquent and yet so simply told. I kept crying - with shame, with sadness, because we don't understand what other people suffer through our actions, through our government's actions, through our own inaction. I was horrified to realise that children were still being removed from their aboriginal parents when I was alive. I always thought it was something that happened in the unenlightened times before I was born. No. It could be argued that it was undertaken in the mistaken belie So powerful and eloquent and yet so simply told. I kept crying - with shame, with sadness, because we don't understand what other people suffer through our actions, through our government's actions, through our own inaction. I was horrified to realise that children were still being removed from their aboriginal parents when I was alive. I always thought it was something that happened in the unenlightened times before I was born. No. It could be argued that it was undertaken in the mistaken belief that it was in their best interests, gave them a better chance at a happy childhood, a prosperous and useful life. But I think there was certainly an element of, remove the children from the land and the heritage, and white society can assume control and exploit the wealth and control the traditional custodians far more easily. Archie struck it lucky with his third lot of foster parents, but the disruption and abuse of his very early years away from his real parents had a lingering impact on his life. In the shame and dislocation, in the seeking for connection somewhere, hunting down his family, finding comfort in an alcoholic charge, sharing yarns and companionship in the aboriginal ghetto of whatever city/town he happened to be visiting. The need to support family, to overlook dysfunction and welcome family, support family. Roach says that there's an addictive gene there, but I think it's an outcome of a life of dislocations, where no matter how you try, things slap you in the face and beat you down. Feeling good on a charge or a spliff or putting money through the pokies is some kind of continuity, guaranteed for short term relief of the terrors and disappointments lurking on the edges of your life. Insightful story and without vitriol.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    A beautiful book about a big, big life. Important, moving and charming - Roach knows how to tell a story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dee Slattery

    Please read this book and let Archie teach you about love, tolerance, spirituality, overcoming addiction, and the equalizer of music. There is so much about Archie’s story that hurts my heart, and sadly, he is one of too many who have experienced trauma like his. I highly recommend listening to his music while reading - let it rain on your cheeks. I hope Australia can improve how it treats the traditional land owners, and in Archie’s words, “Where there is love there is hope.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vannessa

    My five star read of the year. I couldn't put this book down. One of its most interesting aspects for me is the history of Koori activism in Melbourne discussed in this book, public activism as well as all the community work and self organising by Melbourne's Koori community and the role of community radio like 3CR. I also learnt a lot about the history of Aboriginal communities in Victoria and South Australia. The file notes from his file as a ward of the state and old family photographs that A My five star read of the year. I couldn't put this book down. One of its most interesting aspects for me is the history of Koori activism in Melbourne discussed in this book, public activism as well as all the community work and self organising by Melbourne's Koori community and the role of community radio like 3CR. I also learnt a lot about the history of Aboriginal communities in Victoria and South Australia. The file notes from his file as a ward of the state and old family photographs that Archie has included in the book are also really astounding. The book made me think a lot about trauma, resilience and survival. He's done a tremendous job and will leave behind an important legacy to young indigenous people through his music and writing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I vaguely thought about picking this up when it came out - I first saw Roach perform in 1990 and most recently in 2019, so I am a long-time fan - but another musician bio didn't motivate me. It was only when I saw reviews from friends that raved about it that I started reading. And silly me - I should have remembered that Roach is a storyteller of the first order, and this book grabs you from the first page and won't let you go. Roach's story is, of course, compelling, and he brings a depth of re I vaguely thought about picking this up when it came out - I first saw Roach perform in 1990 and most recently in 2019, so I am a long-time fan - but another musician bio didn't motivate me. It was only when I saw reviews from friends that raved about it that I started reading. And silly me - I should have remembered that Roach is a storyteller of the first order, and this book grabs you from the first page and won't let you go. Roach's story is, of course, compelling, and he brings a depth of reflection to his experiences that makes for immersive reading and further reflection. He manages to avoid simplifications, instead showing the good and the bad in situations and experiences, community and addiction, love and suffering.3 A particular pleasure of the book is getting to know Ruby Hunter. My first experience in 1990 with Roach and Hunter was at a music festival, where the buzz around Roach was huge. I rocked up early to see Archie, but it was Ruby, whom I had never heard of, who blew me away. Roach's love for Hunter comes through strongly, but sometimes she is so far on a pedestal I wanted to go back and listen to her own songs.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Rose

    An absolute must-read for, at least, every Australian.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brona's Books

    My March book club read was Archie Roach’s Tell Me Why. It was a moving, searingly honest account of his life. Archie Roach is a Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, who was born in Victoria in 1956. He shot to fame in Australia in 1990 with his debut single, Took the Children Away. He was taken from his family, along with some of his siblings, when he was only three years of age. This is a first hand account of the damages caused by being part of the Stolen Generation. My book group found it compelli My March book club read was Archie Roach’s Tell Me Why. It was a moving, searingly honest account of his life. Archie Roach is a Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, who was born in Victoria in 1956. He shot to fame in Australia in 1990 with his debut single, Took the Children Away. He was taken from his family, along with some of his siblings, when he was only three years of age. This is a first hand account of the damages caused by being part of the Stolen Generation. My book group found it compelling and heart-breaking, yet ultimately hopeful. "Sometimes you can go years without really changing as a person. Maybe you get a little rounder, a little balder, but inside you’re the same man."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    One of the best memoir audiobooks I've ever listened to. I pretty much couldn't stop listening once I started. Completely enthralling. I'm not into country music but was entranced with each song that Archie introduced each chapter. He knows how to tell his story and how to write a song. His and Ruby's story are important contributions to understanding First Nations peoples lives. Highly recommended. One of the best memoir audiobooks I've ever listened to. I pretty much couldn't stop listening once I started. Completely enthralling. I'm not into country music but was entranced with each song that Archie introduced each chapter. He knows how to tell his story and how to write a song. His and Ruby's story are important contributions to understanding First Nations peoples lives. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David McNair

    I have just finished reading “Tell Me Why: The Story of my life and my music” by Archie Roach. I loved reading this book and would recommend it for everyone to read, especially anyone who considers themselves to be Australian. Archie Roach’s story is part of the Australian Story. “I believe that all of us living in Australia suffer, at least a little, from dispossession and disconnection that I felt in my younger years that drove me mad and to drink” - Archie Roach “For so long, we have been divi I have just finished reading “Tell Me Why: The Story of my life and my music” by Archie Roach. I loved reading this book and would recommend it for everyone to read, especially anyone who considers themselves to be Australian. Archie Roach’s story is part of the Australian Story. “I believe that all of us living in Australia suffer, at least a little, from dispossession and disconnection that I felt in my younger years that drove me mad and to drink” - Archie Roach “For so long, we have been divided by ‘isms’ - racism, sexism, fundamentalism, individualism - But when we come back to the place of fire, I believe we will discover there’s far more that connects us than separates us. I believe we will one humanity again, that we will find release, healing and true freedom. The ‘place of fire’ is a place of love and connection. We’ll all be there - I’ll be there - to welcome you back, wrap my arms around you and say, ‘I’ve missed you. Welcome home” - Archie Roach “People ask me if I ever get sick of singing my song, ‘Took the Children Away’. I tell them it’s my healing song. Through songs, I have been able to deal with the pain and trauma in a more positive way. Every time I sing it, I let a little of the hurt and trauma go. I tell them that one day I will be singing it and it will all go . . . And I will be free” - Archie Roach This year in 2020 Archie Roach is nominated as the Australian of the year after becoming the Victorian of the year. I can’t imagine it going to a more deserving recipient who truly embodies what it means to be an Australian. A proud First Nations Person who has taken a life time to discover who he truly is. “This is the story of anyone who has been stolen from family, who has been searching all their life for their identity, their people, culture and country” - Archie Roach Thanks Archie Roach for providing the songs that make up the sound track that many of us can identify with. Archie has said that you know me best through my music. https://iview.abc.net.au/show/austral... I firmly believe that Archie Roach's story embodies and encapsulates this year's Australia Day message of "Respect. Reflect. Celebrate" and that "We are all part of the story" https://vimeo.com/380856244 www.australiaday.org.au In doing so Archie Roach has become one of Australia’s most vital story tellers and the voice of Australia https://www.abc.net.au/doublej/music-... https://fbwat.ch/1vdkfKadF1gsIFiK

  11. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I was a judge for the 2020 Indie Book Awards for which this book was nomimated. My review submitted for the awards is below. I knew little about Archie Roach before reading this autobiography. I knew he was a musician but that's where it ended, I don't think I could even have told you a song title. This book has changed that in the most wonderful way. To say I loved this book is an understatement. Roach writes beautifully and completely drew me in as he spoke of his childhood and the troubles (a I was a judge for the 2020 Indie Book Awards for which this book was nomimated. My review submitted for the awards is below. I knew little about Archie Roach before reading this autobiography. I knew he was a musician but that's where it ended, I don't think I could even have told you a song title. This book has changed that in the most wonderful way. To say I loved this book is an understatement. Roach writes beautifully and completely drew me in as he spoke of his childhood and the troubles (and later joy) that followed. Part of the stolen generation, Roach led a tumultuous early life, spending time in foster care (one which was terrible and one that gave him a base of love and kindness) until he set out on his own to find his family and to try and learn who he really was. The chapters of Tell Me Why open with lyrics from his songs and I found myself looking up his music and listening to song after song as I continued to read. This experience of reading a truly wonderful book whilst listening to the same artists music gave me a moment in time that I'm not sure I've had reading before.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    ‘Tell Me Why’ is a moving masterpiece, a touching narrative; the memoir of the life and music of Archie Roach. Each chapter is artfully framed with poetic and profound song lyrics. At 63 years of age, Archie Roach has lived a full and at times treacherous journey. A survivor of the Stolen Generation, Roach speaks of the trauma suffered by so many, the indescribable scars and the deep sense of displacement from culture, family and home. Roach has battled through alcoholism, hopelessness, loss of fam ‘Tell Me Why’ is a moving masterpiece, a touching narrative; the memoir of the life and music of Archie Roach. Each chapter is artfully framed with poetic and profound song lyrics. At 63 years of age, Archie Roach has lived a full and at times treacherous journey. A survivor of the Stolen Generation, Roach speaks of the trauma suffered by so many, the indescribable scars and the deep sense of displacement from culture, family and home. Roach has battled through alcoholism, hopelessness, loss of family and has come out the other side as a world-renowned musician with a unique way of turning trauma into magical music that is a healing balm to the deepest of places. Falling in love with his romantic life companion Ruby and creating a family of his own are of the highest achievements to Roach and are beautifully evident throughout his book. A truly special book, an inspiring story of an intelligent, spiritual and incredible Indigenous Australian.

  13. 5 out of 5

    SteveRrread

    Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit ... and of a love story. Its an autobiography and provides insight of the current topic of the Aboriginal history of Australia told by an Aboriginal. I heard the audio version. This unusual and special audio production features acoustic samplings from the songs featured, throughout the book, and, at the beginning of each chapter. This provided insight and the background of his music. Apart from Archie being a talented mus Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit ... and of a love story. Its an autobiography and provides insight of the current topic of the Aboriginal history of Australia told by an Aboriginal. I heard the audio version. This unusual and special audio production features acoustic samplings from the songs featured, throughout the book, and, at the beginning of each chapter. This provided insight and the background of his music. Apart from Archie being a talented musician, he is an articulate member of the Stolen Generation. I quote the Australian: "this is a phenomenal work by one of the most articulate and recognizable members of the Stolen Generations."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fran Whiteman

    An emotional well written book. As I listened to the audio version of this book it gave me an insight into the ‘Stolen Children’ in Australian history. It was great to hear about Archie’s & Ruby’s determination to speak up!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I recommend the audio version. Loved the combination of story and music.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fatima

    I have to collect my thoughts, but this memoir is truly a roller coaster ride. My emotions were all over the place, but it’s definitely a fascinating read, infinitely interesting, and absolutely important to all Australians, and everyone else too. But if you are Australian, don’t delay in reading this. Though it is a story of one man, it still manages to tell the story of this country we call home, with a genuine voice, a voice that’s been through a lot, has seen a lot, survived through a lot. A I have to collect my thoughts, but this memoir is truly a roller coaster ride. My emotions were all over the place, but it’s definitely a fascinating read, infinitely interesting, and absolutely important to all Australians, and everyone else too. But if you are Australian, don’t delay in reading this. Though it is a story of one man, it still manages to tell the story of this country we call home, with a genuine voice, a voice that’s been through a lot, has seen a lot, survived through a lot. A voice that needs to be heard. Full review: https://drinkbooks.blog/2020/08/05/bo...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sinéad

    Incredible journey of pain and discovery. I’ve learnt so much about aboriginal culture from this book, I’ve a new found respect for the power of people and land and the damage caused by cruel policies. Confronting recanting of alcoholism and pain, didn’t make it an easy read, but then perhaps it shouldn’t be.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    An instant classic which had me hooked from the first arresting page. So many tears were shed reading this & so many songs played.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Wonderful. His story really came alive for me when I listened to his own recounting of his life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wren

    5/5 Wow. Archie Roach is an amazing person that has thrived despite difficult conditions. Archie Roach is a part of the Stolen Generation and has had to deal with the ramifications of colonisation. He was homeless for many years and suffered greatly from alcohol addiction. He dealt with the grief of losing his siblings, losing a child, losing parents, and losing his soulmate. He has lived through so much and yet he continues to make a difference and inspire hope. I am honestly amazed and overjoye 5/5 Wow. Archie Roach is an amazing person that has thrived despite difficult conditions. Archie Roach is a part of the Stolen Generation and has had to deal with the ramifications of colonisation. He was homeless for many years and suffered greatly from alcohol addiction. He dealt with the grief of losing his siblings, losing a child, losing parents, and losing his soulmate. He has lived through so much and yet he continues to make a difference and inspire hope. I am honestly amazed and overjoyed that there was that instant recognition and familial bond whenever Archie met one of his siblings. It was amazing, as was the instant connection with other Aboriginal people he met throughout his life. My favourite thing about Archie Roach has and always will be how much he loves his wife Ruby Hunter. From the moment they met they had a connection unlike any other and it never wavered throughout their life together. Archie described it as meeting his soulmate and I've never believed soulmates were a real thing until hearing about Archie and Ruby's love. Even knowing that Ruby Hunter had died it was still incredibly sad to hear about her passing and it brought me to tears. I highly, HIGHLY, recommend picking up the audiobook. Archie narrates it himself and you can hear the birds in the background which makes it a more intimate experience. He also sings some of his songs throughout the book and it's a wonderful experience. Also hearing the pain in his voice when he talks about losing Ruby was heartbreaking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Toni Kely-Brown

    I was recommended this read and I'm really happy she did (thanks Joanne!) Memoir is not usually a genre I read, but once I started this book I couldn't put it down. Archie Roach is a great storyteller and whilst I found it hard at times to read about his choices and addictions, he gave me insight into why. As part of the stolen generation he was denied connection with his culture as well as systemic racism and discrimination. How would anyone cope when your culture is obliterated and taken away? I was recommended this read and I'm really happy she did (thanks Joanne!) Memoir is not usually a genre I read, but once I started this book I couldn't put it down. Archie Roach is a great storyteller and whilst I found it hard at times to read about his choices and addictions, he gave me insight into why. As part of the stolen generation he was denied connection with his culture as well as systemic racism and discrimination. How would anyone cope when your culture is obliterated and taken away? Despite everything he has been through he is a forgiving, loving man. His relationship with Ruby was truly beautiful. All Australians should read this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Simply told without rancour, and with plenty of details left out to spare the feelings of his mostly white Australian audience, this is nevertheless a powerful story. Roach grew up, after an early glitch with an apparently cruel family, with a white Scottish Australian Christian couple who were kind and loving to him. He was a good student and a relatively settled child, especially early on at school, until a note arrived for him at school one day, addressed to a name he barely remembered, but i Simply told without rancour, and with plenty of details left out to spare the feelings of his mostly white Australian audience, this is nevertheless a powerful story. Roach grew up, after an early glitch with an apparently cruel family, with a white Scottish Australian Christian couple who were kind and loving to him. He was a good student and a relatively settled child, especially early on at school, until a note arrived for him at school one day, addressed to a name he barely remembered, but instinctively knew was his, and his life changed. Dulcie and Alex Cox, his foster parents, had been told that Archie had been abandoned by his mother, and that they were doing a fine favour by him in offering him a loving home, and they were good people, deceived by an evil system that looked for any white family at all, even those looking for cheap labour or flesh to exploit, to rid the government of their charges. They would have felt as others he spoke to later expressed it: 288: “Here we were… thinking we were going to save [him] from the misery of his people, and it turns out that we couldn’t save him from the misery of ours.” Archie was split up from his four sisters and never knew his birth mother or father, whose relationship did not survive the theft of their children. But he was one of the lucky ones. Archie left home at 15 and took to the streets, like his aboriginal foster brother before him; a few guitar lessons and a guitar under his arm, looking for the sister who wrote him a letter about the death of his mother, giving the names of his siblings. He was looking for his own people, so he sought out black faces in public places in the big cities, and met and fell in with a lot of homeless aboriginal people, drinking themselves to death. He became a terminal alcoholic, existing aimlessly and hopelessly, begging, and floating in and out of public housing and the streets, always drunk, until he began having epileptic seizures due to alcohol, which threatened his life. But he did eventually meet on the streets in various cities the sisters he was seeking, those still living, anyway; and even a brother. He worked on and off, realising in occasional lucid moments that he should stop drinking, and hold down a job for longer, but always returning to it, to fill the hole of the life that had been stolen from him and his siblings. Showing flashes of talent at singing with his mates from time to time, when he could borrow a guitar, and singing Hank Williams songs. Archie was amazed to find everywhere he went that the story was the same amongst the people, they thought that they had been abandoned, and that they were the only ones, but they had been snatched from their parents. After years on the streets, and in and out of public housing, his friends and family were dying from the drink, their relationships breaking with their partners and perpetuating the pain to their children. Eventually, whilst in hospital recovering from a near fatal grande mal, he woke to an old ex-alcoholic friend who persuaded him that there was another chance to be had for life, and another life that could be lived. He became a counsellor to alcoholic aborigines, re-started a life with Ruby, settled into a housing commission house, and started to be more settled, on and off. It was while rediscovering his own potential as a sober man that he began to gravitate back into poetry writing and music, which evolved into song writing. Roach does not speak much about that deficit he was trying to fill; and to himself at the time it was inexplicable, but any sensitive reader can see how dislocating and disruptive his life had been. He chooses to speak instead of the kindness he met along the road from all Australians, both while hitchhiking and just living on the streets or in poverty; even from police. He turns aside from anger when describing directly the things that happened to himself, only occasionally reaching into pain when telling of the history of the abuse of his people by racists. He gently states the case for moving our celebrations of Australia Day to another date while describing the rallies he has taken part in over the years. The reader cannot help but wonder how much potential has been drunk into dust by those of Archie’s peers, both white and black, on the street who did not have the lucky start that he had, with its cultural building blocks, through guitar lessons and writing talent, to express himself and thereby loosen his anger and find a way into sobriety. In fact one of the distressing points that Archie makes is about how quickly the lives are erased and forgotten, of those aboriginal people who lived undistinguished, ordinary or tragic lives; whose friends and family died young and who will never be known again, and whose love was incapacitated. Similarly their languages, dying, never to be spoken again, their last speakers in some cases too ashamed to speak to each other without covering their mouths with their hands. I get the sense that a great deal of his life and opinions are left unstated here, and he actually says in the book that you can find out more of his history and emotional stages from listening to the words of his songs. And it is a lovely way to read the book, to listen to the songs he refers to as you go. Any of the extra details I have put in here, which may not have been in the book, have come from his songs, because it was his beautiful, soulful music and expressive voice that attracted me to this biography.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maz

    A beautifully written autobiography of the life of a first nation's man who was a victim of the stolen generations in Australia. He has such a way with words, which pulls you into his experiences of life, love, loss and more. I cried a lot while reading this A beautifully written autobiography of the life of a first nation's man who was a victim of the stolen generations in Australia. He has such a way with words, which pulls you into his experiences of life, love, loss and more. I cried a lot while reading this

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Gallagher

    Listened to the eAudiobook. It was fascinating and insightful, and brought the odd tear to my eye.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I listened on audible, which I highly recommend as Archie narrates it himself. An incredible story of this incredible man's life! I listened on audible, which I highly recommend as Archie narrates it himself. An incredible story of this incredible man's life!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rani

    Uncle Archie is one of the strongest and most inspiring people I have ever had the fortune of encountering. I was too young to remember the first time I met him, but I was raised on his music. His stories have been the connection to Australia when I was away. There is nothing quite like having the opportunity to read about one of the most iconic people in your history.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ray Banks

    Sad

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Haider

    What a sublime story teller Archie Rose is. Do yourself a favour and listen to the audiobook, where Archie treats you to many soothing acoustic songs.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dusty Schofield

    amazing, very real and true story sad but good....

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris Freudenstein

    Such a moving read. While it tells us the story of one man and his family, it is so much more. I would like to see this book on the reading list for all Australian high school students.

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