Jesse James Paperback – 4 Oct 2007
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"A dazzling work of American history" (Sunday Times)
"A book of inspiring breadth, as impressive in scope as the great Western Plains" (Guardian)
"Beautifully composed and exhaustively researched" (Times Literary Supplement)
"Stunningly intelligent... Stiles writes superbly. He is set to become one of the great biographers of our time" (Miranda Seymour Sunday Times)
The first serious biography of Jesse James in forty years - a stunning reinterpretation of an American icon.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Stiles shows us that James was not just a murderous train and bank robber but a man who was a product of his political environment; the Civil War and the post-war period of Reconstruction.
Sure, he was always going to be a vicious killer but without the political context he would have been captured or killed long before he could make a name for himself. It was because he could cloak himself with the mantle of the freedom fighter that he captured the imagination, and most importantly, received the practical support of the rascist old guard.
It was also a facinating history of a family and the portrait we get of Jesse's mother is, on its own, worth buying the book for.
Stiles has produced a thought provoking work indeed.
What I found most interesting in reading this book is how much of a product of his time Jesse James was. He grew up in the years before the war, in a state that could really have been a microcosm of the nation as a whole as it tore itself apart on the way to war: neighbour against neighbour, whole communities divided. He became a guerilla fighter in Missouri during the war, known as a 'bushwhacker' and in a way he never really stopped.
The war never ended for Jesse James, and until he died it never ended for Missouri either. He became a visible symbol of the Confederacy for those in Missouri who had fought for the South, a man who refused to give up the fight, and he still enjoyed widespread support amongst ex-Confederates, which largely contributed to the difficulties the authorities had in apprehending him. But as the nation moved on and Reconstruction ended, Jesse's outlaw life became less about politics and more about crime as a way of life and his support began to erode.
Jesse James was a self-consciously political bandit and it would be impossible, not to mention a grave disservice, to attempt to separate the man from the context in which he operated. The author has clearly done an exhaustive amount of research on both, and this book could serve just as well for anyone wanting to read about Missouri during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Having read this , I enjoyed "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" in which Brad Pitt is excellent and Casey Affleck looks queasily like Robert Ford did in real life. Very good indeed.
This is not just another mundane biography that simply sprints through a life, peppering the account now and again with colourful anecdotes and set-pieces in order to make it readable. 'Jesse James' is a book in which the author goes to great lengths to recreate, analyse and understand the socio-political world in which James grew up, and by doing so he shows us just how much the subject was a product of his environment. The rough and bitterly divided State of Missouri in the 1850s, 60s, and 70s, is meticulously presented to an extent that James the fighter, James the outlaw, James the man, fits seamlessly into it and we are able to understand his place.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read that is more than about one outlaw but about American history in the cracks.Published 2 days ago by Thomas A. Regelski
Brilliant account of the American Civil war and its legacy in which Jesse James became a guerrilla terrorist and ultimately a fugitive from justice.Published 24 months ago by Alan Unsworth
Very well researched and detailed account of the life and times of a famous outlaw that most people have heard of, and think they know through legend and hollywood. Read morePublished on 23 April 2013 by EJB
Sad to say I did not enjoy this book at all. So much of the book is about the context of the times and place where Jesse James was born, lived and operated. Read morePublished on 24 Oct. 2012 by Child Of The Sixties
Good & informative book. Will not want to put it down when you start reading it A best buy for the holidays!Published on 30 Jun. 2012 by Georgiegirl
It came accross this book Via a friend, as I am into outlaws such as Billy the Kid. I thourght this book would be good as I love to read, but I could not get into it. Read morePublished on 10 July 2005 by Kindle Customer
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