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True History of the Kelly Gang

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  21,596 ratings  ·  1,309 reviews
“I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.”

In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on erran
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Vintage (first published 2000)
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Ben I came here wondering the exact same thing. It seems like its a PG version of the "F-word" but since they actually use that word at times, I was a bit…moreI came here wondering the exact same thing. It seems like its a PG version of the "F-word" but since they actually use that word at times, I was a bit confused. (less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  21,596 ratings  ·  1,309 reviews

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This book is a wonder. It's interesting that it can be so effective when its artifice is so apparent. No one really writes like this. No one really uses this bizarre amalgam of heightened vocabulary, slang, and understatement; just to read a few pages is proof enough of that. The technique is mostly a kind of enjambed, run-on sentence style with colorful Australian argot. Yet one is completely mesmerized by the book. Its pleasures as a narrative are rich and unrelenting. My heart pounds and a sy ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, bookers, abandoned
Well here I am being a bad person again, I try to be good and I really do like to like things but you all are probably by now getting the strong idea that really I like to dislike things, such as Booker Prize winners and movies with Scarlet Johanssssssen in them. They call me Mr Grumpy, baby, cause baby, that’s my name. No, Otis Redding did not sing that song, I did. Well I did not make it even to the middle of this Kelly Gang saga and the reasons are disturbing – for me, that is, not for you.

Whitney Atkinson
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-class, dnf
lmao i definitely didn't read the last 100 pages of this ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This fascinating novel from Man Booker prize winner Peter Carey explores the story of the deadly Kelly Gang from the perspective of one of the Kellys. The Kelly gang has an interesting role in Australian history as a band of renegades that were treated like shit by society and forced (or not depending on how you view it) to take to a life of brigandry to survive. They were brutally hunted down by the Aussie government but the hunt took years and cost many lives. The book is exciting and very wel ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Finally, a true history of the Kelly gang. No doubt, you've long suspected all those other tales about the outlaws who terrorized Australia in the 1870s were infected with English prejudice or Aussie pride. If you want the real scoop, you've got to read Ned Kelly's own words - God's honest truth - as brought to us in Peter Carey's avalanche of a novel.

"I know what it is to be raised on lies and silences," the legendary bushranger writes to a daughter he will never see. "You are presently too you
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Let’s start at the beginning. At the front cover, in fact. The first thing you notice is that this is not “The True History…”, not even “A True History…”. No, it is simply “True History…”. Even before the reader opens the book to read, there’s the hint of a question, of some ambiguity - what exactly are we reading? In several senses, the title is also misleading: the contents of the book are not all “true” and only about a quarter of the book involves the Kelly Gang (the gang does not form until ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. I loved this telling of the Ned Kelly/Kelly Gang story, they all felt incredibly alive to me as I read it. I have added two of the biographies on Ned Kelly that Peter Carey mentions in his acknowledgments, and may read the others too. He has inspired me to continue learning about this, though I'll give his novel time to digest first. I had a rough idea of the plot going in, since this is a historical figure I don't think that can be helped, in fact it may even add to the exp ...more
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If, like me, you don't know anything about Ned Kelly when you start this book, don't be scared off by the first two pages with the killer robot. That will all become clear later. Really, between the cover design, the killer robot, and the difficult style, I thought I was going to hate this book. Halfway through it, I realized I was totally in love with it. It was this paragraph that really did it for me:

We thought you doomed and rooned the minute you walked out past the chook house and Wild deli
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda; wasn't quite so keen on Jack Maggs; this is my favourite to date. Ned Kelly is Australia's version of Jesse James or Billy the Kid. A loveable outlaw fighting against institutional injustice and to feed his family. He tells his story in the first person with wonderful inventive language. He perhaps stretches the truth to flatter his role in it but all of us do this when we tell our own stories and eventually he completely won me over and I was rooting for ...more
Description: In True History of the Kelly Gang," " the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging, colorful, tale of the legendary Aussie bandit Ned Kelly and his outlaw mates. Told mainly in the form of a letter penned by Ned Kelly for his daughter, Ned's slangy Aussie 'semi-literate magically descriptive' dialect took a bit of getting used to, but was the engine that propelled this fictional account to the booker prize podium.
An adjectival damn good read. No effin' doubt about it. 4 1/2 stars"
Darryl Mexic
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
The book aint no adjectival ordinary good read it were an Australian bush tale about ole Ned Kelly a real life legendary criminal and hero and how he were forced to become a bushranger by the effing corrupt police and judges and them fellers what owned everything and bent the law to their favor. Ole Ned wrote his story in letter form to his unborn daughter being carried in the belly of his beloved whore Mary Hearn he seen his family treated poorly and himself put in gaol for no good reason. It’s ...more
Joy D
Historical fiction about the life of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (1854-1880). When I first picked it up, I thought it was non-fiction (just reading the title); however, I quickly realized it is a fictitious memoir, with Ned Kelly writing his life story to his infant daughter. Ned Kelly was the eldest son of Ellen and John “Red” Kelly, an Irish transported convict. His father died when he was young, so he and his mother developed a close relationship. He is apprenticed to bushranger Har ...more
This historical novel set in Australia won the Man Booker Prize in 2001 and truly is a great read despite a slow start. The wild west narrative builds steam as the main character, Ned Kelly, and his hardscrabble Irish family deal with the corrupt law enforcement in the Australian bush of the 1870’s. As the story follows Ned as a teenager and then into young adulthood, Ned and the Kelly family act on different grievances, the stakes become escalated as they perpetuate numerous crimes. Eventually ...more
I fell in love with the voice of Ned Kelly. I can't make judgement on Ned Kelly, but I loved the character as told over to us by Peter Carey. I was simply quite taken. When I first started the book I felt that a little punctuation wouldn't be amiss but as the story continued I started to think in that voice, to hear it in my head and roll the sounds of it around in my mouth. This is the line where I realized that I loved this book, "He were as lazy as the dog that rests its head against the wall ...more
This novel won Peter Carey the Booker Prize in 2001, snubbingAtonement, number9dream, Oxygen and Hotel World. He remains one of only three Australian authors to have won the award (the other two being Thomas Keneally andD.B.C. Pierre) and the only Australian author to win the Booker twice - first time in 1988 for his historical novel Oscar and Lucinda. He shares the honor with J.M. Coetzee, J.G. Farrell and Hilary Mantel.

I had little knowledge about Ned Kelly before reading this novel, except fo
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
I 'effing' love Peter Carey's prose. An 'adjectival' masterpiece of historical fiction and myth-making. ...more
Yigal Zur
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
loved it
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Talk about total immersion!

Reading this was like being dunked and held under in the inhospitable waters of hardtack bush life in the 19th century, and no, Carey is not letting you up for air! The language and style -a torrential outpouring of unpunctuated vernacular- does take some getting used to, and can be potentially confusing at first (and even later)but I think it's part of what gives this novel such a strong faculty for transporting the reader to another time and place. (I were there with
Dillwynia Peter
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The title says it all – the TRUE History. The adage is – history is told from the viewpoint of the victors. If this is the case, then the Kellys of Benalla should not be the mythologised folk that they are. Their story is a complicated one, and one that has been very much forgotten in recent decades: the denigration of Irish Catholics in Australia. I also suspect it was by these same Irish Catholic immigrants and descendants that helped create the myths. The myth however, particularly up to the ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My new word for the week is adjectival. A good novel from the perspective of Ned Kelly. The outlining of us against them or the poor Irish Catholic against the English descended colonists and their persecution is historical fact.

The description of the bush reminds me of my time in Australia. The gum trees, smell of eucalyptus in the air and the raucous squawking of the parakeets, cockatoo and kookaburra bring back memories. A friend of mine years ago took me to the pub which supposedly Ned visi
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Peter Carey has reimagined the brief but eventful life of the notorious Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly, in a manner both cinematic and intimate. Using historical documents to challenge the commonly accepted legend - and deftly creating narrative to cover the many gaps of objective history - his story is vivid, touching, and plausible. This is literary historical fiction of the first order and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4.5 stars
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in 2001, Peter Carey stated that the idea for writing a history of Ned Kelly started when he read the so-called Jerilderie Letter in a museum in the 1960s. This 8,000 word, 56-page letter was dictated to fellow gang member Joe Byrne by Ned following the robbery of the Jerilderie bank in 1879. In it Ned explains why he has been driven to lead a life as a bushranger following persecution of his family by a corrupt police force and victimisation of poor ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Carey is an adjectival genius. You coves, when you tell your history to your daughters, tell it true as Ned Kelly did. History has some rough spots. Mates and traitors. For me, the best parts of True History of the Kelly Gang, in no particular order, were: the complex relationship of Kelly and his Ma; the blossoming character of Mary Hearn; and the story of how Whitty got his land with the help of the Devil. There is, it turns out, only one wish the Devil can not grant.
This is an 'adjectival' original piece of historical fiction. Carey did a fine job recreating Ned Kelly's voice. A piece of 19th century Australian history come to life through the masterly invented voice of Australia's most famous bushranger. ...more
Richard Moss
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Why hadn't I read this before? It's a fantastic novel.

Carey's fictionalised account of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly's short, eventful life grips from start to finish. He sticks to the known story, but gives it an emotional heart to add to the pure entertainment value.

His stroke of genius is to make it Ned's narrative. It could so easily have been bungled - how many of us could write as a 19th Century Bushranger? But Carey pulls it off. Of course, it's impossible to know how accurate his impersona
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Written in the words of the infamous bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly – Australia’s Jesse James/ Robin Hood – the True History of the Kelly Gang is a novel which accounts Kelly’s life from impoverished childhood to inevitable capture and execution. Kelly’s story centers on the unfairness and corruption of the nineteenth century Australian legal system, and the discriminations against the poor and the Irish (of which Kelly was both). Through it all, Ned Kelly’s motivations are for justice, family ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great capturing of the voice of Ned Kelly - uneducated but inciteful, and a true warrior and defender of the weak. The injustice of the colonial overlords is horrific. Makes you wonder why we westerners only point fingers at lesser developed nations for their barbarism - we seemed to have evolved from it ourselves. ...more
BAM the enigma
Once I acclimated to the sentence structure, the poor grammar, the lack of punctuation, I rather enjoyed the book. The author did research the subject, so that's a plus, you never know what you might get with historical fiction nowadays. I remember several years back watching the movie with Heath Ledger. Pretty similar book more detailed of course. If a fan of Australia, outlaws, Rebels I'd suggest this book ...more
I read this back when the Ned Kelly film was released because I got so hung up on this Aussie legend! And it was such a fantastic read! Finally I was able to experience this man's life (or a guesstimate of this man's life, which is why I shelved it as non-fiction as well as historical fiction) as it happened. History is fantastic, and I've been to Glenrowan and seen artefacts that are proof of the legend, but this was beautifully told with a lot of heart and I was captivated by being a part of i ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv

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