Paperback review: The Kelly Gang Unmasked, By Ian Macfarlane


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The Independent Culture

This meticulously researched account of Australia’s unofficial national hero, Ned Kelly, produces not so much a portrayal of a republican outlaw (Kelly never expressed any desire for engagement with the republican movement) as one of a career criminal used to violence and drunkenness, whose stupidity and cowardice resulted not only in the deaths of innocent policemen, women and children at the town of Glenrowan, but of his own family members and friends, too.

It’s a damning history, backed up by Macfarlane’s assiduous searches through the available documentation – he worked at the Public Record Office in Victoria for 21 years – and while it’s not kind to the non-specialist reader, offering little in the way of gentle introduction, it is quite mesmerising in its detail.