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A more detailed and academic read for those, who like me, have been fascinated with Ned since reading "The History of Australian Bushrangers" as a child in the 1960's, Peter Carey's "True History of the Kelly Gang", and other Ned Kelly works and movies. I found that the additional layers of information in Jones' book around Ned's famous exploits tended to make him more human and less heroic. Though Jones takes a sympathetic view, sometimes I was saddened by having my former black & white, good-guy vs. bad-guy ideals shattered. Ned made many poor decisions and in some cases simply committed criminal acts then rationalised them. It is sometimes confronting to read these facts about a heroic figure who clearly also possessed kindness and conscience. Ian Jones' own conclusion - that the greatness of the story is in its own capturing of the imagination over so many generations is the best summary. Having read the book I feel much better educated and able to understand the complex moral arguments on both sides of this tragic and exciting saga.
Undoubtedly the best of its genre. Mr Jones is secure in his opinions enough to open up questions to other possibilities for Ned's actions. He is THE expert on Ned Kelly, although has not been well lately apparently so I am sure all his fans and readers of this work will want to wish him well in his recovery.
The one thing that really annoyed me when reading this otherwise extremely readable novel was Mr Carey's use of the terms "would of" and "could of" in Ned's/Joe's letters, to me an abominable error seen more and more in modern times and making those two men appear as complete grammatical dunces. It's clear from the originals that at least they understood the correct use of "would have" and could have".