'I lost my own father at 12 yrs 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 a dazzling act of ventriloquism, Peter Carey gives the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly a voice so wild, passionate and original that it is impossible not to believe that the famous bushranger himself is speaking from beyond the grave. 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'.

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