BORN OR BRED? - Robert Wainwright and Paola Totaro

Review Written By
Sunnie Gill

BORN OR BRED? began life as a book to tell Bryant's mother's story. However, unhappy at what the authors wanted to do, Carleen Bryant quickly pulled out of the project. By that time Wainwright and Totaro had become fascinated into trying to find if there was something in Bryant's past that would explain in inexplicable.

They spoke to neighbours, friends, family, teachers; anyone who knew Bryant and his family willing to talk, trying to shed light on the man.

All are interesting; some are revelatory. Probably the people who come closest to giving us an understanding are Bryant's defence lawyer, John Avery and forensic psychiatrist Paul Mullen.

No one really knows why Martin Bryant went on that killing spree, with the exception of Bryant, and if he knows, he's not telling. Chances are the man with an assessed IQ of a child of 10 or 11 and an emotional age of 2 doesn't know himself.

What does emerge from the book is a picture of a tragically pathetic man who, while he did the unforgiveable, just didn't have the skills to fit into society and is more to be pitied than despised. 

Year of Publication

Martin John Bryant slipped into the world in the autumn of 1967, blond, blue-eyed, angelic.  On a sunny Sunday 29 years later, Carleen and Maurice Bryant's beloved first-born loaded the boot of his yellow Volvo with guns and ammunition and returned to Tasmania's historic Port Arthur settlement, scene of many idyllic childhood summers. 

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