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Authorship is one of the most challenging of all occupations, particularly if your calling is investigative journalism. Nothing comes easy in this field. It's a business of grit and grind.

Bill Nicol has devoted decades to this writing task."It's a curse," he says. "I love it. I loath it. I just don't seem to be able to stop it."

While other Nicol Notes pages will explain more about each book, here's we'll just take an overview of them all. 

Bill's first book, Timor: The Stillborn Nation (1978), concerns the bloody battles for the heart and soul of one of the world's newest nations, Timor Leste. The book lifts the lid on the dirty dealings that led to East Timor's bloody civil war and military occupation. Approached by Mark Hanuz, a Jakarta publisher, to reprise the book for Timor Leste's independence, Bill updated it under the title Timor: A Nation Reborn (2002).

As each of these books take years to research, write and publish, quite a while passed before Bill's second book saw the light of day. This was McBride: Behind the Myth (1989). It explores the cosy relationship between the media and celebrity that allowed fraudulent science to run amok.

Following these early books and after another hiatus, Bill resumed authorship after overseeing the reconstruction of Aceh following the 2004 Tsunami. This experience and the insistence of the Indonesian Government led him to write a series of nine books on various aspects of disaster management and crisis leadership.  

The centrepiece of these books, Tsunami Chronicles: Adventures in Disaster Management (2013), is a seminal six-book series on international disaster recovery focused on the Aceh reconstruction program itself. Each of the six books in the series is published separately and also in a single volume.


Next  came Crisis Leadership: Dealing with Disasters from Asia to Africa and America (2014). Bill wrote this to capture the wider theatre of leadership in unfolding crises.


Still not done, Bill heard the insistent knocks on his gestalt as a poem demanded to find form on his writing pad. This led to an entirely different style of book, a longish poem titled Tsunami: A Poet’s Journey (2014) that Bill published for the 10th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami. It offers a more visceral glimpse of humanitarian endeavour than prose could allow.


There was just one more book to come, one that endavoured to summarise and simplify the key ideas in the earlier disaster series. It is called Building Back from Disasters: A Handbook for Leaders (2014). Bill write it as a toolkit for disaster practitioners. He's not sure any bothered to read it as the field is generally littered with more political theatre than substance. Aside from technical improvements, disaster management appears to remain a political dogfight.

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