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Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War

2 Ratings: 4.0
A book

From Publishers Weekly  In a lucid reexamination of one of the nation's most notorious outlaws, independent historian Stiles argues that Jesse James (1847-1882), like his fellow "bushwhackers," had a political agenda and that this made him … see full wiki

Author: T.J. Stiles
Genre: Nonfiction,Biography,American History
Publisher: Knof
Date Published: 2002
1 review about Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War

Well Done but Flawed Biography of Jesse James

  • Mar 2, 2009
The author posits that Jesse James' career as an outlaw was really political terrorism directed at the policies of the Radical Republicans after the Civil War. He uses as evidence Jesse James writings to newspapers and the use of James as a political tool by others, such as John Edwards, a Democratic newspaperman. And he claims that James' targets were politically motivated as well. I'm not buying it.

Jesse James, was plainly and simply, a career criminal. Stiles' theory of violentization does seem correct, where at the age of 16, James became a bushwacker and participated in some of the most violent and dirty fighting of the Civil War. After the war, all James really knew was violence and turned to crime and banditry because that's what he knew best. James' writings to newspapers and basking in the adulation of politically motivated men like Edwards was simply a stroking of his ego.

A perfect example of Jesse James' character can be seen when he tried to live a normal life. His brother Frank, who was also a bushwhacker and criminal as well, only wanted to settle down and have a normal family life. And he was successful and happy doing so. Jesse got restless and just couldn't do it - going back to his life of banditry and crime.

Again, I think this is an excellent, well-researched biography, but it makes Jesse out to be something he wasn't.

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January 02, 2010
Sounds like another fine example of well-written history. There are a lot of really fascinating stories out there, aren't there!
January 03, 2010
it is well researched and well done and probably the most comprehensive and complete bio of Jesse James you'll see, even if I disagree with his ultimate "theory."
January 02, 2010
Sounds positively fascinating. I have read very little about the old west and this sounds like it might be a nice place to start. Excellent review!
January 02, 2010
It is certainly a fascinating read and very thorough.
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