True History of the Kelly Gang, The

Carey, Peter

  12 Reviews

Ned Kelly, the legendary Australian bush outlaw, headed a gang whose mythic two years on the run ended in a shootout with the police at a pub in Glenrowan, June 1880. Being the only survivor, Kelly was tried and hanged, aged twenty-six years. Kelly narrates his own "history", driven, as he claims, to becoming an outlaw because of the harassment of both him and his family by corrupt police. Booker Prize Winner, 2001. [Small font]

Comments from Groups

Great book - thoroughly enjoyed by all - even the style of writing. Nelson 012

Most of us were impressed by this rollicking tale giving a very convincing picture of life of the poor rural immigrant Irish...Criticisms were related to the liberty Carey took with history. Christchurch 071

Animated discussion on 'fact' vs 'fiction' aspects of this novel. Twizel 002

What a gripping story! Those of us who read this were appalled at the treatment ...they didn't stand a chance. Murchison 001

The book seemed to have a real impact on most members, We felt for Ned Kelly and the hand he was dealt by fate, but also for the other people in his life. Wellington 066

Thought the book was great, so well written. Christchurch 079

Carey's language and characters created a powerful sense of place and time - you could smell it! Auckland 063



CHCH 009
Those who liked it thought it wonderful. Those not so keen saw that there was more to it after an enthusiastic discussion.
HAVE 005
Most of us felt that the book was too long, and that adding the fiction of Kelly's wife and daughter only detracted from an otherwise good story.
WINT 001
An interesting read, provoked some good discussion. The websites offered were a bonus, as some of us took advantage of them.
Loved the style it was written in - a pity that treatment of people hasn't changed much.
AUCK 300
Most people really enjoyed this book, finding it well-written and engaging. 2 people found it depressing!
WANG 011
We were all a bit startled by the punctuation-less prose but we all, except one, got used to it. We were not as familiar with Ned Kelly as Australians, and we weren't always sure what was true and what was fiction. For example, was Kelly really as honest and kind-hearted a non-smoker, non-drinker, and non-swearer as he seemed to be, while all his friends and family were rough, and the police and judiciary were completely corrupt However a little hyperbole is reasonable. We recommend this book.
Only a few members read the entire book and enjoyed it. Others only got part way through, finding it difficult to read, and the content dark. It did, however, provide a good discussion.
AUCK 015
We were all concerned initially about the small print and lack of punctuation, but found that these did not affect enjoyment. Carey certainly portrayed the unpleasant life of the Australian Irish immigrants of the time very well, and also the extent of police corruption. We all appreciated the descriptive writing and humour.
A number of us didn't finish it (small font size!) but the social situation was very compelling and led to much discussion about those times and ours (same today...well yes!). Enjoyed the language and engaging storytelling, 'adjectival' making its way into our personal language!
CHCH 329
Well-written. Not entirely convincing or balanced, but enjoyable to read some background on an Australian character.
AUCK 376
Most people had difficulty with the way in which this was written ( as a first-person narrative), making it hard to get into the swing of the story. Several members had read it before, and were admiring of the achievement of blending history and fiction.
A mixed response to this book. The run on sentences, use of a vernacular, the grammar and the lack of punctuation made this a difficult read. So much so that some members in our group did not read past the first 130 or so pages. That said, this book is well researched and well written. No surprise given it is a Booker Award winner. We thought the book paints a vivid picture of the challenging Australian outback, and presents a strong portrayal of life as a bushranger, the corrupt and cruel justice and police systems, the prejudiced, bigoted attitudes of the British ruling class...