SHOT ALL TO HELL by Mark Lee Gardner

SHOT ALL TO HELL

Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape

KIRKUS REVIEW

An action-packed, admiring portrait of the James-Younger gang that robbed people, banks and trains for a decade before retiring, dying or stewing in prison.

Western historian Gardner (To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West, 2010) has done impressive research in the Old West’s abundant but relentlessly unreliable sources (lurid newspaper articles, jailhouse interviews, self-serving memoirs by elderly gang members) to deliver a colorful portrait of men who do not deserve his admiration. Jesse James (1847–1882), Frank James (1843–1915) and the Younger brothers grew up in the Midwest. Confederate sympathizers, most participated as “bushwackers” in the nasty partisan insurgency that wracked Missouri during the Civil War. Inured to violence, they later coalesced into a criminal band that traveled widely and became national news. Gardner summarizes their lives and early depredations before settling in to describe their last, spectacularly bungled 1876 robbery of a Northfield, Minn., bank. The clerk refused to open the safe. By the time the gang lost patience and killed him, the citizenry had gathered whatever weapons they could find, killed two gang members and wounded the rest before the robbers fled. There followed a massive, disorganized manhunt from which only Jesse and Frank escaped. Jesse later recruited another gang and committed several robberies before one member killed him for the reward.

Written in the breathless prose that seems obligatory for this genre and with more sympathy to the subjects than seems necessary, the book is still a gripping read and probably tells all there is to tell about a legendary group of psychopaths.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-198947-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2013




IT'S A DARK, DARK WORLD BUT DON'T MAKE US LEAVE IT:

Fiction A GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin
by George R.R. Martin
Fiction DARK MEN by Derek Haas
by Derek Haas
Fiction THE MOON AND THE SUN by Vonda N. McIntyre
by Vonda N. McIntyre

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionJESSE JAMES by T.J. Stiles
by T.J. Stiles
NonfictionWYATT EARP by Andrew C. Isenberg
by Andrew C. Isenberg
NonfictionTHE LAST GUNFIGHT by Jeff Guinn
by Jeff Guinn