■ REVIEW: Without Warning
Author doesn’t let injuries define him

It would take a special type of person to criticise this book. The front cover sums it up – a surfie-looking guy smiling into the camera, fit and tanned, standing on two prosthetic legs.

Damien Thomlinson was an Australian Special Forces soldier whose life changed irretrievably while on patrol in Afghanistan. One minute he’s your typical Aussie lad fulfilling his dream and family legacy of being a soldier – the next missing two legs and has a shattered body.

Most people would probably give up at this point, but then you wouldn’t get the book out of it.

Thomlinson’s tale is impressive. And compelling because of his honesty. There’s no holding back. It’s clear that putting his story down on paper was cathartic. He’s been able to tell his story in a raw and uncut way, and to vent on things that have vexed him – particularly his treatment at times by the Australian army.

He has decided not to be defined or restricted by his injuries and you have to salute that approach to life. That determination helped him to walk on his new legs just six weeks after the accident – and then to be able to welcome home his unit from Afghanistan (a moment filmed by 60 Minutes and one likely to bring even the hardest bloke close to tears).

To be honest, at times he comes across as a bit of a prick but after what he’s been through, it’s hard to begrudge him a little bit of attitude.

It’s an impressive story worth reading, and made better with the inclusions of the thoughts and observations from family and friends, and the medical staff who helped make him the athlete he is today.

After all he is adamant he is not handicapped in any way – he just doesn’t have any legs.

Without Warning, by Damien Thomlinson with Michael Cowley (HarperCollins, RRP $37)

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