In this brilliant biography T. J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking work Stiles places James within the context of the bloody conflicts of the Civil War to reveal a much more complicated and significant figure.
Raised in a fiercely pro-slavery household in bitterly divided Misssouri, at age sixteen James became a bushwhacker, one of the savage Confederate guerrillas that terrorized the border states. After the end of the war, James continued his campaign of robbery and murder into the brutal era of reconstruction, when his reckless daring, his partisan pronouncements, and his alliance with the sympathetic editor John Newman Edwards placed him squarely at the forefront of the former Confederates’ bid to recapture political power. With meticulous research and vivid accounts of the dramatic adventures of the famous gunman, T. J. Stiles shows how he resembles not the apolitical hero of legend, but rather a figure ready to use violence to command attention for a political cause—in many ways, a forerunner of the modern terrorist.
Gr 6-12-A gripping portrait of one of the most notorious and vicious criminals in U.S. history. At 18, James was to most a feared and hated outlaw, but to others he was a folk hero in the image of Robin Hood. Along with his brother Frank and other renegade soldiers, he formed the ``James Gang,'' which sought to avenge the lost cause of the Confederacy. This man has fascinated readers for a century, and Stiles brings him to life with his poignant style and use of vivid period photographs. While his tone is highly sympathetic to James and the cruel and iniquitous treatment he received at the hands of Union soldiers, he in no way romanticizes or justifies the killer's actions. The legend lives on in this readable biography.- Julie Halverstadt, Douglas Public Library District, Castle Rock, CO