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True History of the Kelly Gang School & Library Binding – Nov 1 2001


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School & Library Binding, Nov 1 2001
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Product Details

  • School & Library Binding: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613458443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613458443
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 12.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott M. Craig on June 19 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a book that I've recommended to a number of friends and family. It's a really great read. First, Mr. Carey has adopted the lyrical, unpunctuated style that Ned Kelly used and the same vernacular of the early Australian immigrants Second, the story of the Kelly family and the brutal, unfair conditions of life for the forced immigrants makes for an important and compelling story. The True History of the Kelly Gang is mainly a depressing tale, but there are moments of genuine humor and humanity. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
That pretty much sums it up. The novel is narrated by Kelly in poorly punctuated fashion. Surprise! Kelly thinks he's a hero. What he really is is difficult to discern, but he has a con's way of being convincing. The story is entertaining, keeps moving and everything else. So its definitely worth reading, if you like a good historic novel once in a while. Nothing else really to say . . .
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Format: Paperback
I knew nothing of this famous gang since I am from the US and I've never stduied Aussie outlaw history. Could the Kelley Gang have been in the US? England? South Africa? Yes, I think so- many of the conditions that led to this gang seem to be universal. Ned kelley's Irish family were put-down, locked-up and thrown-around by tyranical law enforcement gangs because, well, because they were Irish.
Ned Kelley lashes back at the law with fists, guns and armour. His Irish family is treated by the "adjectival" authority with disdain bordering on obsessive hatred. Taught by the notorious bushranger Harry Power, Ned learns young to run, think and fire fast and first and ask questions later.
The body count is high, morality low and yet the human spirit remains intact as Ned's love for his Mother and girlfriend (later to be wife) provide motivation that rises above loathing and eye for an eye rationale.
I do enjoy Peter Carey's books. If you do too, I highly recommend "Jack Maggs".
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Format: Paperback
A well-told story that loses points for some historical inaccuracies, and some outright untruths. The Mary Hearn character is fictitious, but just how many of the others are?
One untruth would be the part where Harry Power decapitates a crow that "happened to be" near a stagecoach hold up. If Harry had just recently fired his rifle, any crow I've had experience with would have been at least a kilometer away a minute later.
Ned Kelly, with a Catholic background, would surely have been referring to the *fifth* commandment, not the sixth when murder was being mentioned. The reader has been tolerating the lack of punctuation because it sounds more "authentic", but such inaccuracies tend to squander the authenticity of the language that has built up.
I particularly liked the description of the reflection of the fire in the eyes of the terrified cattle, but Peter Carey confuses American terms for Australian ones on occasions, though he does remember chooks. With a bit more proof reading, it would have been that much better still.
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By A Customer on April 11 2002
Format: Paperback
I've heard people describe Peter Carey as "the Cormac McCarthy of Australia" when they are referring to this novel. Although that's unfair to both Carey and McCarthy, it did get me to read this book. And, I did find that Carey was something like McCarthy in that he is able to tell what is essentially an "outlaw" story and make is sound more like a myth.
I don't know anything of Ned Kelly other than what I read in this book, but in "The True History of the Kelly Gang," at least, Ned Kelly seems not so much outlaw as rogue, more like Robin Hood than Billy the Kid. This is a book with all the cruelty, murder and barbarism of McCarthy's books, yet "The True History of the Kelly Gang" seems to have a strain of likable sentimentality as well. I liked Ned Kelly and I liked this book.
I've read, of course, that despite this book having been written in the first person, Ned Kelly did not write it. This is historical fiction, not an autobiographical work, but it's so good, who cares? And, it is based on actual events.
Carey based this book on a letter the real Ned Kelly wrote after robbing a bank. The book (history) is ostensibly written by Kelly to his daughter so she would always know the truth about her father, both the good and the bad, rather than having to rely on folk tales and rumor.
"The True History of the Kelly Gang" has an episodic feel to it, since, rather than being conventionally plotted, adventure is piled upon adventure upon adventure. There's not a lot of humor in this book and not much self-reflection; self-reflection from one such as Ned Kelly might have seemed absurd. If you think about it long enough, the very idea of Ned Kelly writing his memoirs seems absurd, but just don't think about it too much. Enjoy the book instead.
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Format: Paperback
This book chronicles Ned Kelly, an Austrailian folk hero similar to Billy the Kid or other American Western criminal heroes. It is told in letters to his young daughter, and the details of his life are revealed episodically through packets of letters written at different times in the last couple of years of his life.
The characters are very well drawn, and the reader gets to know Kelly's friends (hardly a gang as it's told here), his family, and the racist, money-grubbing, establishment bad guys that ruin his life. Of course, there are many detours along the way, but what it finally becomes is a well-written, human portrait of a misunderstood killer. This will probably make a good shoot-em-up action movie.
As entertaining as this book becomes, I found it a bit slow at the start, and also at some points in the middle stages of the narrative. Overall, though, it is worth reading. Having read most of the other books on the Booker Prize short list, however, I'd say this is the weakest of the group ... if you're looking for deep literature, you'd be better off going to Atonement by Ian McEwan. If you're looking for a reasonable adventure story with interesting characters, then The True History of the Kelly Gang will suit you just fine.
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