Monday, 25 November 2013

Review - Jesse James: The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of the Most Infamous Outlaw of All Time

Jesse James: The Life, Times, and Treacherous Death of the Most Infamous Outlaw of All Time
By: Frank Triplett
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Pub. Date: April 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1620873656
Pages: 432

Review:

Jesse James along with his brother Frank, the Younger Brothers and other bandits were the most famous outlaws post-Civil War, robbing banks and trains throughout Missouri and neighboring states. Jesse James was assassinated by a fellow gang member Robert Ford on April 3, 1882. A mining engineer and author, Frank Triplett, finished the first Jesse James biography seven weeks after Jesse James’s death.

This book had the longest title in American literature history - The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of Jesse James. The Only Correct and Authorized-Edition. Giving Full Particulars of Each and Every Dark and Desperate Deed in the Career of This Most Noted Outlaw of Any Time or Nation. The Facts and Incidents contained in this Volume, were dictated to Frank Triplett, by Mrs. Jesse James, Wife of Bandit, and Mrs. Zerelda Samuel, His Mother.

Frank Triplett wasn't exactly a fan of the Missouri governor Thomas T. Crittenden, as the governor had a hand in Jesse's death by putting out a $10,000 bounty on his head and conspiring with Robert Ford. 4,500 copies of the book were sold in 1882, but the governor had his agents collect the books and burn them. To this day only nine books survived.

I'm a Missourian and I grew up listening to the stories about Jesse James and his gang from my grandma, who loves reading anything on the James Gang. Jesse's assassin, Robert Ford, is actually buried in the local cemetery of where I live. I've read several books about the Jesse James over the years and I was eager to learn that Skyhorse publishing had reprinted the long-lost Frank Triplett book retitled (well shorten) Jesse James: The Life, Times, and Treacherous Death of the Most Infamous Outlaw of All Time. The author had gone into extraordinary detail to recount James Gang bank robberies, train heists and overall life. There have been several biographies that claim to know the real facts, but this book feels more real as Jesse's wife and mother authorized its authenticity. The author even lists the robberies in detail that were claimed to be robbed  by Jesse's gang, but were robbed by other thieves. One of the robberies mentioned is the town I live in. My town has a reenactment of the robbery every year, despite the fact Jesse might have never actually been involved in the robbery.

Overall, Jesse James: The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of the Most Infamous Outlaw of All Time is an essential piece of American western history and it is one of the best books I have read on the Jesse James.



*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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