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Peter FitzSimons grew up on a farm in Peats Ridge, New South Wales, the youngest of a large family of siblings. He played rugby union in Australia, Italy and France and represented Australia at international level with the Wallabies. Following his rugby career FitzSimons took up work as a sports journalist in the 1980s and went on to become a full-time columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald.
FitzSimons has written biographies of well known Australians, including sports and political personalities, and narrative non-fiction on Australian history including Batavia (2011) and Australian military campaigns including Kokoda (2004) and Tobruk (2006). Kokoda: Teen Edition was published in 2016.
'Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers' ploughs.
'Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy's brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka?
'Peter FitzSimons, bestselling chronicler of many of the great defining moments and people of this nation's history, is the perfect person to tell this most iconic of all Australian stories. From Kelly's early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons' Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly gang, to Ned's appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim ‘He is the devil!' and ‘He is the bunyip!', FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all of the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Sir Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, remains Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, his Australasian Antarctic Expedition left Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below Australia, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. He was on his way to fulfil a national dream he had first conceived three years earlier, while on his first trip to the frozen continent on the Nimrod expedition under the leadership of the charismatic Anglo-Irishman Sir Ernest Shackleton.
'Even as Mawson and his men were approaching Antarctica, two other famous Antarctic explorers were already engaged in nothing less than a race to become the first men to reach the South Pole. While Roald Amundsen of Norway, with his small team, was racing with dogs along one route, England's legendary Scott of the Antarctic, with his far larger team, was relying primarily on ponies and "man-hauling" to get there along another.
'As Mawson and his men make their home on the windiest place on earth and prepare for their own record-breaking treks, with devastating drama to be their constant companion, the stories of Amundsen and Scott similarly play out.
'With his trademark in-depth research, FitzSimons provides a compelling portrait of these great Antarctic explorers. For the first time, he weaves together their legendary feats into one thrilling account, bringing the jaw-dropping events of this bygone era dazzlingly back to life.' (From the publisher's website.)