Book review: When the Dust Settles – A moving, unsettling memoir by a woman who deals with the aftermath of carnage

Disaster recovery expert Lucy Easthope has written a deeply humane, yet strangely uplifting book about her experiences

Firefighters walk towards the World Trade Center in New York after a plane hit the first of the towers on September 11, 2001: emergency planners such as Lucy Easthope are responsible for identifying the victims and their possessions after such disasters. Picture: Getty

In 2002, the British emergency planner Lucy Easthope received a shopping list that included 750 coffins and 500 body bags. With the Iraq War looming, she had been given responsibility for building a mortuary in England where dead British soldiers could be brought. When they arrived, some remains consisted of just hands or feet and Easthope was charged with sorting through the limbs.

Since the British government didn’t supply its troops with suitable footwear for ...