Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape

Mark Lee Gardner, Author
Mark Lee Gardner. Morrow, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-198947-6
Book - 978-0-06-229336-7
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-0-06-198948-3
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-224888-6
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In this true-life tale of the infamous Jesse James and his outlaw gang, historian Gardner (To Hell on a Fast Horse) crafts an elegant narrative that’s as entertaining as it is historically accurate. Led by the “unquestionably charismatic” Jesse and his Shakespeare- and Bible-quoting brother Frank, the criminals are a “bunch of good ol’ boys” whose “fearless efficiency” in their capers and their penchant for stylish horses, clothes, and pistols made them celebrities in their own day. The book’s focus is a 10-minute bank heist and shootout in Northfield, Minn., in 1876, which leaves two gang members dead and the survivors on the lam. Gardner conveys the mayhem wonderfully, shifting focus from within the bank to the men on the street to townspeople taking up arms in defense, providing a rich visual and rhythmic dimension to the story and shedding light on a bygone era’s drastically different approach to law enforcement. The ensuing manhunt is fraught with tension as the James gang, with “various wounds seeping blood and pus,” roams the wilderness, evading numerous mobilized vigilante forces made up of a panoply of characters with rich histories all their own. A must-read for any western fan. Agent: Jim Donovan, Donovan Literary. (Aug. 1)
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