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When the Dust Settles

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529358247

Price: £20

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‘A gripping account, filled with compassion.’ – Sunday Times

‘Exemplary and displays a painstaking sensitivity.’ – New Statesman

‘It does for disaster what Rachel Clarke’s Dear Life has done for palliative medicine and Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt for obstetrics.’ – Telegraph

‘A remarkable account…that it is ultimately hopeful and uplifting, is down to the utter human decency that the author represents’Mail on Sunday

‘Enthralling…though laced with bleak humour, this vivid and humane book forces readers to look into some exceptionally dark places’Observer

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.

Lucy is a world-leading authority on recovering from 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 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, the Grenfell fire and the Covid-19 pandemic. In every catastrophe, Lucy is there to pick up the pieces and prepare for the next one. She holds governments to account, helps communities rally together, returns personal possessions to families, and holds the hands of the survivors.

In her moving memoir she reveals what happens in the aftermath and explores how we pick up and rebuild with strength and perseverance. 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. Telling her own personal story, Lucy looks back at a life spent on the edges of disaster, from a Liverpudlian childhood steeped in the Hillsborough tragedy to the many losses and loves of her career.

With wisdom, resilience and candour, When the Dust Settles lifts us up by showing that humanity, hope and humour can – and must – be found on the darkest days.


A book of horror and hope, written with rare humanity.
John Sutherland, bestselling author of BLUE and CROSSING THE LINE
A riveting no-nonsense memoir that pulls back the curtains on your worst fears and shows you that someone, somewhere, will always truly care.
Jenny Colgan
Outstanding... a graphic but deeply humane account of what drew her to take on such work, and how she steels herself to tackle the worst of human scenarios.
The Bookseller
"I think what 'When the Dust Settles' taught me is that all experiences are of value, even major disasters of the sort that Easthope has experienced over her extraordinary career. In the words of Leonard Cohen: "There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in" Easthope shows us how perfection and imperfection are woven together. Everything is flawed. Yet there is also hope despite the flaws. It is through the cracks, and through the dogged dedication of disaster experts like Easthope, who has been an adviser on nearly every major disaster for the last twenty years, that the light comes in. Hold onto that thought as we navigate dark days ahead."
Rachel Kelly, mental health advocate and author of Sunday Times bestseller ‘Black Rainbow: How words can heal - my journey through depression.’
'This generosity is one of the things that makes the book so powerful, all the more as it never slips into a sentimental glossing over of incompetence or insensitivity. Easthope makes no secret of her anger, but takes care that it should be properly understood and directed, and doesn't create more stigma, fear, defensiveness and failure. Both in its style and in its substance, this is a profoundly moral book, written with deceptive conversational ease; it opens up a world of terrible and extreme experience, but stubbornly continues to look at what's there, the inner and outer landscape of what Easthope is not afraid to call the soul.'
New Statesman
'Easthope, whether she knows it or not, is that rare thing, a genuine philosopher thinking through what she is actually doing in the mitigation of human suffering, grief and isolation. This book is more searching as an analysis of human needs and nature than a good many technical volumes on the subject.'
New Statesman
'Enthralling...though laced with bleak humour, this vivid and humane book forces readers to look into some exceptionally dark places'
'A remarkable account...This should be a dark and depressing read; that it isn't, that it is ultimately hopeful and uplifting, is down to the utter human decency that the author represents'
Mail on Sunday
Never less than reassuringly humane, it does for disaster what Rachel Clarke's Dear Life has done for palliative medicine and Adam Kay's This Is Going To Hurt for obstetrics. She shows and ells and, vitally, cares.
While this book is not for the faint-hearted, it does provide an antidote to despair. There are people out there imagining scenarios the rest of us would rather ignore and doing the hard work needed to manage them.
Daily Mirror
An entirely unique vision of the human experience
Irish Times
A candid, unsettling and darkly funny account of a life spent dealing with catastrophes
Sunday Post
'With wisdom, resilience and candour, When The Dust Settles lifts us up by showing that humanity, hope and humour can - and must - be found on the darkest of days'
Manx Independent
A poignant, funny, analytical and profoundly humane collection of "stories of love, loss and hope" from a lifetime in this compelling and complex world.
Perspective Magazine
'a gripping account, filled with compassion'
Sunday Times
New Statesman Best Books of 2022 so far 'Her sensitive and profoundly moral book explores how human beings can preserve their resilience and live with loss.'
New Statesman
inspiring memoir
Yorkshire Post
The intractable problems of recovery come to the fore as the book proceeds, and Easthope gives deep consideration to the lessons we can learn."
'This book rewrites your perceptions of the disasters and wars of our lifetime with vivid details and vignettes. Yes, some of these are dark, but there is often humour, and the book is laced with humanity and decency...When The Dust Settles is a literary memento which honours the messy truth of life.'
The Critic
'A deeply humane, occasionally unsettling, and strangely uplifting book' 'When the Dust Settles allows us to glimpse at places most of us will never inhabit. Throughout, Easthope blends the professional and the personal, writing sensitively about her experience of multiple miscarriages. Yet the weight of the scenarios that Easthope describes is counterbalanced by her calm tone, understated style, and inky-black humour'
Irish Business Post