Ned Kelly by Peter Fitzsimons

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Makes American Outlaws seem tame……   *****

This is an amazing story. Not only is it well written and well documented, Fitzsimons narrates in a way that makes you feel you are living and seeing this true saga as it is happening.

The story of Ned Kelly and what happened to his family shows how some things have not changed. Impoverished, Kelly turns to horse stealing to augment his family’s needs. He is falsely accused of shooting a constable who had made advances to his sister. His mother, who did hit the constable is incarcerated. This leads to Kelly commiting further crimes and is considered an outlaw.  When a small posse is sent after him, he shoots one of them in self defense. Because of crooked lawmen, bad judges, and a poor defense lawyer he is convicted of cold blooded murder and hung for a crime he did not commit. His trial is an uncanny parallel to what happened recently to Steve Avery,  documented in The Making of A Murderer.

The characters are compelling, evoking emotions from sympathy to disgust. The epilogue gives an excellent wrap up of what happened to each person in this story after Kelly’s hanging. Ironically, the two concerns Ned Kelly had while alive, the corrupt police and the rich land grabbers, are both addressed by the government because of his case. Just too late to have saved him.

This is a page turner, and while lengthy, I didn’t notice the length, and it kept me engrossed until the end.

This one gets five stars.

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Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons

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Mutiny On the Bounty meets Lord of the Flies…..   *****

 

This is an incredible account of how depraved the human race can be. Had this been a novel, it would be unbelievable, but it is a true story.

Peter Fitzsimons is an amazing writer, who can take facts and write them in a narrative style that is as much a page turner as any good thriller. In the preface, Fitzsimons admits that he wants to accurately “convey the unprecedented drama of the Batavia wreck”, and that his approach may invoke criticism. He was right on both counts. For this reader, however, I enjoyed his method and compliment him on bringing this tragedy to life.

Meticulously researched and with the creativity of a poet, Fitzsimons tells the story of how a group of men can be influenced by a charismatic leader, and be convinced to do deeds completely barbaric. It is hard to imagine the hardships suffered and endurance that the men and women in this story required to survive. The brutality is unimaginable, the stamina mind boggling, and the fact that there were survivors is nothing short of miraculous.

This would make a great film. Maybe Ron Howard should have done this instead of In The Heart of the Sea, the story of Moby Dick.

This one gets five stars.