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82 Reviews
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate tale of hard-scrabble frontier life.
This is a "western" which gallops to life, and the reader feels the grit, smells the dust, and agonizes with desperate characters as they are tossed every which way, not by their own deliberate decisions so much as by the unpredictability of their Australian frontier existence.
Ned Kelly, the Jesse James of Australia, becomes human here, not a monstrous...
Published on 6 Jan. 2006 by Mary Whipple

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Complexity by construction only...
This was not a long or particularly difficult read IMHO but perhaps my expectations were too great. I had hoped to find a more elaborate and sweeping tale of rural Victoria with the transported, displaced Irish at odds with their new surroundings and new world wardens.
Instead the author has constructed a stylised autobiographical narrative recounting the well known...
Published 6 months ago by Jack Ireland


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why does no one write books this good about Britain?, 29 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
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This is a marvellous novel, a book that is profound in the way it opens up the real history of real people. I just wish someone could write books this good about the history of Britain.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping reconstruction of the life of an Australian hero, 10 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
Presented in the form of a journal written by Australian outlaw Ned Kelly in order to present his view of his life to his daughter, this book is therefore very rough and ready in its style. Far from being discouraging this assists in allowing the reader to envelop themselves in the life and times of Ned Kelly. I found the story compelling and Carey's methods produced an evocative narrative. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Australia, history in general or who enjoys reading books which conjure up the great outdoors and the spirit of the outlaw.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First rate Yarn, very much along the lines of Jack Maggs, 8 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This is a top drawer book by the master. Submerge yourself in this book. This book is quite similar to Jack Maggs - a ripping yarn of victorian standards. Don't know how historically accurate it is, but who cares if you can lose yourself in it for a few days.
As good as Oscar and Lucinda too.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carey at his best!, 23 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
I've read all of Carey's work and this book was superb. Knew nothing of Ned Kelly before I bought it, but found it an engrossing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks, 25 Jan. 2015
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading, 15 Oct. 2001
What a fantasic read this is. If you can imajine how compelling a manuscript by the actual Ned Kelly would be, and how facinating, then get this book. It is unputtdownable. The narrative voice is so strong and the pace never slackens. It is the perfect historical novel.
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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frustration, 8 Jun. 2010
I am an A-level English Language and Literature student who has just finished an exam in which I had to compare this book with Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Although In Cold Blood was the core text and True History of the Kelly Gang was only the comparative piece I still had to study the latter vigourously. And I could put it down. I could put it down over and over again. Now I do have an appreciation for good literature and I can agree that Capote's book is a masterwork despite the fact I did not warm to it, but THIS book on the other hand is not good literature; in truth I did not even finish reading it. My chief problems are two things: the way it is written and the fact that not much happens. (Obviously things do happen but when they do they aren't portrayed in a way that grips the reader.)

Sure, Carey might be trying to evoke the spirit of Ned Kelly by writing like an illiterate person, but I found it very difficult to read. Sentences are crammed together without punctuation, grammar is non-existent and gives the overall feeling of a droning, monotonous voice. The book is organised into "parcels" rather than chapters, telling the rather slow and plodding story of how Ned Kelly came to be Australia's Robin Hood. I managed to get a fairly decent way into the book and it seemed to show no sign of moving on -- that is, Ned was still nowhere near the transition from lowly farmer to outlaw. It is very difficult to grasp what is happening when the writing continually jumps from one incident to the next, everything blurring together due to Carey's rather unorthodox way of writing; to read an entire book written in such a way obviously tries my patience. And the characters too irritated me, especially Ned's mother. One minute she is a perfect mother and the next she is promiscuous, completely ignoring the death of her husband to run off with Bill Frost. Everything just seems too inconistent and, if I may say so, all over the place.

It probably doesn't help that I had to study the book as in-depth as I did, and had it been just a casual read I might have enjoyed it; but having studied Jane Eyre, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Of Mice and Men in secondary school and growing to love them, maybe that rule doesn't apply here. I hope whoever reads this appreciates that I am simply giving a review from the other end of the scale, and please don't assume that I don't know a good book when I see one as I assure you I love to read!

Sorry Peter Carey, but you just haven't done it for this student. (And I think everyone else I know who had to study this book thinks the same.)
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14 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book you would never read twice., 24 Oct. 2001
The style in which the True History of the Kelly Gang is written is not an issue with this book. It takes a little while to get used to and then is not a hindrence to the reader. The initial layout and story is an interesting account of poor Irish in a young Australia with lots of emphasis on drinking. Is it the drinking that keeps them poor?
After about 75 pages the story becomes tedious and at this point I think most readers will keep on putting the book back on the bedside table to read another night.
If you can get to the end the finale is gripping even if it has been highlighted on the cover and in various narratives.
There seems to be a predisosition to imagine that the Irish were suppressed.This book suggests the opoosite.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as a historical account, but that's about it, 5 Sept. 2002
By A Customer
A good account of a fascinating life, but as a gripping read it just wasn't. It is written phonetically, and while phonetic writing is usually an effective tool allowing the reader to feel closer to the characters, in this case it didn't quite hit the right note. In attempting to convey Ned's lack of education Carey frequently used bad grammer, which could have added depth but was used inconsistently, so it appeared as if the wrong words (eg. was instead of were) were employed purely for the sake of it. This made the narrative appear stilted and became annoying.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars replying to A reader from Effingham, Surrey United Kingdom, 15 Aug. 2003
By A Customer
I enjoyed the reviews for this book - good to see a mixed view.
All I really wanted to say to the reader from Effingham who reviewed the book was - I agreed very much on your thoughts, but if you are going to write - "Carey frequently used bad grammer' please make sure you spell 'grammar' correctly!! It gave me a laugh if anything!!
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True History of the Kelly Gang
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (Paperback - 8 Jan. 2001)
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