*Includes pictures of James and important people and places in his life.
*Discusses James's notorious life and murder.
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a Table of Contents.
“There is a hell of excitement in this part of the country.” – Jesse James
Space may be the final frontier, but no frontier has ever captured the American imagination like the “Wild West”, which still evokes images of dusty cowboys, outlaws, gunfights, gamblers, and barroom brawls over 100 years after the West was settled. A constant fixture in American pop culture, the 19th century American West continues to be vividly and colorful portrayed not just as a place but as a state of mind. In Charles River Editors’ Legends of the West series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America’s most famous frontier figures in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
The Wild West has made legends out of many men after their deaths, but like Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James was a celebrity during his life. However, while Hickok was (mostly) a lawman, Jesse James was and remains the most famous outlaw of the Wild West, with both his life of crime and his death remaining pop culture fixtures.
James and his notorious older brother Frank were Confederate bushwhackers in the lawless region of Missouri during the Civil War. Despite being a teenager, James was severely wounded twice during the war, including being shot in the chest, but that would hardly slow him down after the war ended. As he recuperated, some of the men he was known to associate with during the war robbed Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty, Missouri in 1866. While it’s still unclear whether James was involved, he was soon conducting his own bank robberies.
Young Jesse became notorious in 1869 after robbing the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri, during which he murdered the bank cashier in the mistaken belief that the cashier was Union officer Samuel Cox. Despite being officially branded an outlaw, public resentment with government corruption and the banks helped turn James into a celebrated “Robin Hood” type of robber, despite the fact he never actually gave anyone money.
Eventually James, his brother and their infamous gang became the most hunted outlaws in the country, but Jesse would famously be done in by the brother of his most trusted gang members. After Jesse moved in with the Ford brothers, Bob Ford began secretly negotiating turning in the famous outlaw to Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden. On April 3, 1882, as the gang prepared for another robber, Jesse was famously shot in the back of the head by Bob Ford as he stood on a chair fixing a painting. While conspiracy theories have continued to linger that somehow James was not killed on that day, the Ford brothers would celebrate their participation in his murder, Bob himself would be murdered a few years later, and Jesse James’s legacy had been ensured.
Legends of the West: The Life and Legacy of Jesse James chronicles the outlaw’s life, while also analyzing his legacy and the mythology that has enveloped his story, attempting to separate fact from fiction to determine what the notorious robber was really like. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events in his life, you will learn about Jesse James like you never have before, in no time at all.