Summary

"True History of Kelly Gang is the song of Australia, and it sings its protest in a voice at once crude and delicate, menacing and heart-wrenching. Carey gives us Ned Kelly as orphan, as Oedipus, as horse thief, farmer, bushranger, reformer, bank-robber, police-killer and, finally, as his country's beloved Robin Hood." "In 1878 Francis Harty, a poor farmer, said, 'Ned Kelly is the best bloody man that has ever been in Benalla, I would fight up to my knees in blood for him - I have known him for years, I would take his word sooner than another man's oath'." "By the time of his hanging in 1880 a whole country would seem to agree - and it is a measure of Peter Carey's achievement that he has not only made art from his country's great story but that he persuades us all to understand the true measure of that 'best bloody man'."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Out of nineteenth-century Australia rides a hero of his people and a man for all nations, in this masterpiece by the Booker Prize-winning author of Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs. Exhilarating, hilarious, panoramic, and immediately engrossing, it is also—at a distance of many thousand miles and more than a century—a Great American Novel. This is Ned Kelly's true confession, in his own words and written on the run for an infant daughter he has never seen. To the authorities, this son of dirt-poor Irish immigrants was a born thief and, ultimately, a cold-blooded murderer; to most other Australians, he was a scapegoat and patriot persecuted by "English" landlords and their agents. With his brothers and two friends, Kelly eluded a massive police manhunt for twenty months, living by his wits and strong heart, supplementing his bushwhacking skills with ingenious bank robberies while enjoying the support of most everyone not in uniform. He declined to flee overseas when he could, bound to win his jailed mother's freedom by any means possible, including his own surrender. In the end, however, she served out her sentence in the same Melbourne prison where, in 1880, her son was hanged. Still his country's most powerful legend, Ned Kelly is here chiefly a man in full: devoted son, loving husband, fretful father, and loyal friend, now speaking as if from the grave. With this mythic outlaw and the story of his mighty travails and exploits, and with all the force of a classic Western, Peter Carey has breathed life into a historical figure who transcends all borders and embodies tragedy, perseverance, and freedom.