Selectors, Squatters and Stock Thieves
Paperback, 404 pages
Doug Morrissey’s acclaimed book Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life (2015) was short listed for the prestigious Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History in 2016. This his second book in a trilogy of historical works dealing with Ned’s life and times, shines a much needed light on the bushranger’s pioneer community. The lives of selectors, squatters, and stock thieves are examined revealing a complex community, significantly different from the Kelly myth fiction of squatter tyranny, police oppression and selector poverty and despair. Morrissey’s book holds the key to understanding the Kelly Outbreak, Ned and his Sympathisers and the neglected ‘silent’ majority of respectable, law abiding residents. It reveals the collaborative fulcrum on which community life turned, based on cooperation not conflict. Settling the land is discussed as a successful pioneering endeavor rather than the usual depressing tale of woe. Cultural beliefs, shared values, community goals and how people conducted and expressed themselves in their daily lives, are at the center of this groundbreaking book. Those writing about the bushranger’s life and times from now on, will need to reference Morrissey’s evidence based research or their writings will not be taken seriously.
This myth busting book, assisted by John Hirst's valuable editing, reflects Morrissey's deep knowledge of Kelly Country and its people and provides an important counterweight to the familiar, generally sympathetic and overly romantic accounts of Kelly's life and exploits. It is an important revisionary attack on the dominant historiography with its 'old cliches and metaphors' and highlights the limited research and repetition of multiple errors that are characteristic of most Kelly biographies. The book is a most important rebuttal of the many myths that have grown up around Ned Kelly.
-- Dr Dale Kent, Adjunct Professor, School of Humanities University of New England.
Myth makers beware might well be the touchstone of this work, which is the latest offering by noted Australian historian Dr Doug Morrissey. A specialist on matters pertaining to the mythology surrounding Ned Kelly and his cohorts, he has researched and written widely on this subject. In Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life Doug brings much needed fair mindedness and historical accuracy to the Ned Kelly story.
-- Dr Robert Haldane, Police Superintendent retired, Recipient of the Australian Police Medal.
In Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life, Doug Morrissey critically analyses the mythology surrounding the Victorian bushranger and his Kelly Gang. Kelly became what would be called today a celebrity criminal. Doug Morrissey’s detailed research challenges the Kelly Myth. The late Dr John Hirst substantially edited Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life from a much longer manuscript. A most valuable contribution to Australian history.
-- Judging Panel, Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History 2016.