May 18, 2015

Book Review - A Boy's Short Life: the story of Warren Braedon/Louis Johnson by Haebich and Mickle

Louis was born Warren, to the Braedon family in Alice Springs. As part of the government policy that applied for the welfare of children, he was removed from his family, adopted by a white family and renamed Louis Johnson. He had a loving and nurturing upbringing with his adoptive family but as a teenager, decided to try and find his biological family and understand his background. At the time of the adoption, his adoptive parents were told he was not wanted by his birth mother, but the Johnsons came to know the truth and tried to help him find his birth family.  Before he could meet them, he was shockingly murdered by some white youths who killed him because they had decided to murder a black person that day. He was killed on his nineteenth birthday.

Originally published as part of a larger book, this short book of 80 pages concentrates on this one story. Detailing the changing government policies and social attitudes that affected his life, it is told in plain almost stark language. The authors are experienced in researching and understanding indigenous history, and tell a strong and sad story. Extensively annotated and including a list of sources and suggested further study resources, this book illuminates a sadly significant part of our history.

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