Review: Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia’s Most Notorious Legend

Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia's Most Notorious Legend
Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia’s Most Notorious Legend by Peter FitzSimons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always thought Ned Kelly to be one of those historical personages who achieved their legendary status by urban myths; that is there were not many historical supporting evidence of his existence, much less his feats. This tome (848 pages = 30+ hours audio) had me revising my views. There were numerous historical data to be had and sort through though of course, there remains questions which we’ll never have answers to. Despite all this data, there also remains the debate whether Ned Kelly is a good guy or bad guy. This, as always, is a matter of personal views.

The book started with the humble beginning of Ned Kelly, his parents’ origins and his birth, to conclude by his ignominious death and consequences thereafter. To begin with, I’m a total Kelly sympathiser; I felt the indignation of the family as one of the poor (life was oh so very hard and I mean this sincerely) and being hounded by the police, some of them liars and scoundrels to boot, pushed them beyond their limits. At the halfway mark, I do question whether there is motives of greed, of self-grandiose, of narcissism. And at the end, I do feel sorry that his life ended as it was, especially with a trial where it seemed justice was miscarried; it was really unfair that he could not get a fair representation. Nevertheless, the Kelly outbreak did cause a review of the police and of the unfair treatment of the poor Irish which is what he wanted so I guess he got what he wanted, after all. And his legend lives on…

This is the second Peter FizSimons’ works I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I’ll be trolling through the rest of them soon. I’ve really liked them because they’re not dry; he has inserted some personal views (so stated) but that is precisely why I like them. It made the works personal like he’s sharing and not telling/lecturing. If you’re a hard-core historian, you may not appreciate this but for a layman like myself, utterly enjoyable.

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