Friday, November 12, 2021

Review of "Young Australia Series: Ned Kelly," by Frank Clune

 Review of

Young Australia Series: Ned Kelly, by Frank Clune ISBN 0207120285

Five out of five stars

Australian outlaw that is romanticized

 The American public tends to romanticize and be fascinated by the major outlaws in her history. Names like Jesse James,  Billy the Kid, John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde are household names. Movies have been made, some cases multiple, about all of these historical figures. In many cases it is very hard to separate fact from fiction in their lives.

 Ned Kelly was an Australian outlaw that has also been romanticized by the Australian public. He was born in Australia to an Irish father that was a convict transported to Australia. When Ned was 12, his father died, making him the male head of the household. His family was poor and not well treated by the local police and many of the upper echelons of their society. Partly in order to survive and also to tweak the ruling class, Ned began associating with bushrangers, outlaws that live in the bush areas of Australia.

 Ned served several short sentences, when there was a violent confrontation between the Kelly family and the police, Ned and his gang killed three police officers and became formal outlaws. For two years the Kelly gang evaded police before there was a final shootout where the only survivor of the gang was Ned Kelly. He was tried, convicted and then hanged, despite widespread support for some form of clemency.

 Like the American outlaws, Ned Kelly then became an Australian cultural icon, the subject of many works, including more biographies than any other Australian. This book recapitulates his life and actions without adding to his iconic status. It was interesting and entertaining to read this story of an Australian outlaw and realize that he has reached an Australian status on the level of the most famous outlaws in American history.


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