Legends, Outlaws, Brothers

Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly

On vacation in Australia, Robert Utley had a great idea. Looking at a statue of the infamous bandit Ned Kelly in his bulletproof armor, it came to him that Kelly was “Australia’s ‘Billy the Kid.’” After all, both Billy and Ned were of Irish descent and were near contemporaries (Billy lived from 1859-1881, Ned 1854-1880).

Utley, a Billy the Kid scholar (Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life) became determined to be an expert on Kelly. The result, Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly is a dual biography of two outlaws and the evolution of their legends. It’s also a comparative study of the frontiers of two continents, and answers the intg question:  Why did these two men appear at the same time half a world apart?

Allen Barra, author of Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends

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