Image of the book cover for Silent Shock.Silent Shock is a book about the global thalidomide disaster, the subsequent cover-up and revelations showing how the tragedy could and should have been cut short.

The young girl on the cover is Lyn Rowe. Lyn was born in Melbourne in 1962 entirely without limbs as a result of her mother Wendy taking thalidomide for morning sickness early in pregnancy. About 40 years later Lyn led the legal action that exposed the whole story about thalidomide and the companies that recklessly promoted it as exceptionally safe and effective.

Rightside lawyers Michael Magazanik and Grace Wilson (then at other law firms) worked on the thalidomide litigation, which ended in a very successful multi-million dollar sum for Lyn and a further settlement of about $90 million which was shared among the other group members.

When the litigation was over, Michael, a journalist-turned-lawyer, turned to writing the story. The book is a thriller, about Lyn Rowe and her remarkable family setting out for justice almost 50 years after her birth; up against a German drug company so bizarre that during the 1970s it had a man who’d been convicted and jailed for mass murder at Auschwitz as the chairman of its board. There’s plenty of corporate greed, heroic doctors and outrageous conduct.

Thalidomide was responsible for up to 15,000 dead and damaged babies, and the book draws on documents (and secrets) unearthed during three years of litigating, researching and interviewing.

Listen to Michael at The Wheeler Centre talk about the global thalidomide crisis and his book: