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1 correction by RonnieLand - Show corrections

Overview of Kellyana

NED KELLY: Australian Son. By Max Brown. Angus and Rob- ertson. 258pp. $3.50.

NED KELLY: After a Century of Acrimony. By John Meredith   and Bill Scott. Lansdowne Press. 183pp. $14.95.

FRANK CLUNE'S NED KEL- LY. By Frank Clune. Angus and Robertson. 196pp. $3.50.



MAX Brown's 'Ned Kelly:

Australian Son' is a new edition of his 'Australian Son', first pub- lished in 1948. His research ap- pears to have been meticulous although regrettably the book carries neither a bibliography nor footnotes giving sources. In this regard John Molony's book is exemplary. (See part one of Graeme Barrow's review in last Sunday's Canberra Times.)

This is a major failing given the evident importance of Brown's strik- ing work to Kellyana and the fact that he quotes many of the pro- tagonists verbatim. Another irritat- ing omission is the absence of an


Brown provides interesting back- ground about the Kellys and his account of the times is invaluable to anyone attempting to come to an understanding of why Ned acted as

he did.

The most gripping of his chapters deal with the Glenrowan siege whose periods of drama, comedy and terror

These reviews conclude Graeme Barrow's survey, the first part of which was published last Sunday, of recent books about Ned Kelly

and his era.

stretch belief. Brown's account of the police repeatedly firing on inno- cent hostages trying to flee the hotel is horrifying in its depiction of their indifference to the fate of those they should have been trying to protect.

Blood lust, fear and panic appear to have sent the police mad in their desire for revenge on the gang of young bushmen who had tormented and humiliated them for months, as

well as killing three of their col-


The value of 'Ned Kelly: After a Century of Acrimony' lies in its extensive listings of material pub- lished or shown about the gang. The

authors' actual version of the story   is run-of-the-mill and suffers from a surfeit of exclamation marks.

The lists extending for 41 pages include books, manuscripts, paint- ings, tapes, films, songs, poems and plays about the Kellys.

As well, the authors reproduce the text of the Second Progress Report of the Royal Commission into the Kelly outbreak, the words and music of songs about the gang, and the text of nine Kelly letters.

At least one of these, the Jeritderie Letter, is an edited version if it is compared with that reproduced in Max Brown's book and stated to be the text of a copy of the original.

Lansdowne was the publisher of both Harry Nunn's book and this effort, yet there are curious dis- crepancies. For example, Nunn says George King was 19 years younger than the widowed 42-year-old Ellen Kelly, or 23, when they married; Meredith and Scott say he was 25.

Nunn says the Kings had four child- ren, the other authors say they had

three. Nunn says the Cameron Let- ter was dated 14 December 1879, Meredith and Scott put it a year


Finally, there is 'Frank Clunc's Ned Kelly', a reprint of his 1962 work, 'Ned Kelly's Last Stand', which in turn appears to have been adapted from his 'The Kelly Hunters' published in 1954.

Clune races through the story, employing the journalistic device of short paragraphs and even shorter sentences. No references are cited although there are numerous ver- batim quotes from the protagonists.

So you have these relatives from Ireland coming out to visit and you want to give them a book about Australia. I suggest you disregard the opulence of coffee table prod- uctions and buy a copy of Molony's 'I am Ned Kelly'. It will tell them much about this country and also remind them of home. It will also

explain many traits in the Australian character – contempt for authority,

courage, resourcefulness and an in- triguing disregard for the end of all things when, like Ned, Australians want to die game.