This is the story of America's most controversial bandit from his early years in Missouri to his entry in the Civil War and his life afterwards as a husband, father and outlaw.
Jesse James outwited soldiers, lawmen and Pinkerton agents for more than twenty years. In so doing he became a symbol of military injustice and an undefeated Confederacy. The failure to capture Jesse James helped bring down the administration of two Missouri governors and the letters he wrote to newspaper editors made him a national media figure. The trial and acquittal of his brother, Frank James, created a nnational media sensation.
Jesse was a teenager in the pre Civil War violence of Missouri. His family was well respected and prosperous. Jesse's biological father had been a well-known Baptist preacher and religious organizer in rural Missouri who died proselyting to the miners of California. Jesse's stepfather was a doctor and his mother was a woman known for being intelligent, outspoken and strong willed.
Although too young to officially be a soldier, Jesse was unwillingly drawn into the sectional fighting with Kansas and then into the bloody slaughter of the Civil War. Along with his brother Frank, Jesse joined the forces of the Missouri Confederacy. When Union troops took over the Missouri government, the states Confederate soldiers were declared to be guerrillas and outlaws. When the Civil War was over, the "guerrillas" of Missouri were not allowed to surrender since they were never officially recognized as soldiers. Their status as "outlaws" continues. This becomes the crucial element of Jesse's life as he marries and tries to raise a family. Gradually, he transforms into the outlaw that the government regards him as being.
There have been other novels and several movies about Jesse James. They are, without exception, all bad faith efforts that make little attempt to understand the complexities of the times. The Real Jesse James is an original work of historical fiction that has been extremely well researched. The author has a degree in American history and years of experience as a teacher. Jesse James became one of the most controversial and legendary figures in this nation's history; but his real life was more interesting than the legends.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I enjoyed it. I thought it gave a fair, interesting and unbiased viewpoint of confederates, which I did not think I would ever understand. Really interesting book!