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True History of the Kelly Gang   by Peter Carey

Read: 2002-01-01 Reviewed: 2004-03-12
Re-read factor:
Before I read this book I held as questionable the wisdom of novelizing historical events.

Peter Carey presents a story as if the hero was the narrator, telling things from his own perspective. Nobody truely knows the historical figure's own perspective, or all the details of his life, so the author has used some imagination to interpolate between historical documents; the demarkation not being obvious. The author's drive at authenticity goes as far as mimicing the hero's own (challenged) style of articulation, as extrapolated from said historical records. This works very well, but I can't help feeling it gives the man a certain character that nobody knows for sure he actually had.

Now I've read it I'm glad it was written, because it turns out Ned Kelly is practically Australia's patron saint, and I didn't know anything about him. Having read it, maybe I have an opinion of the man and his attitude which isn't historically justifiable, but at least I now know (and will remember) what the man did, and why he is regarded today, probably wrongly, as a national hero.

A riveting read.

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