The Jesse James Scrapbookby George Jansen
Jesse James is, all these years later, one of the most famous American characters who has ever lived. Not only an American paradox, James is a symbol of "the haunted stillness" of a post Civil War America, scarred for life by "that terrible conflict," the bloodiest battle ever experienced on American soil. Jansen's novel examines the James legend through the firsthand
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I thought of Jesse James as just a sterotypical gunslinger of the wild west--the kind that popped up in my brother's cowboy games in childhood--until I read The Jesse James Scrapbook. Telling the story of James' life through the eyes of various characters who knew him, the author brings Jesse James alive in all his complexity. Each character tells their their part in their own distintive voice. The era is stitched together in a fine patchwork not unike the quilt mentioned in one of the chapters. I couldn't put the book down the first time I read it; it's a book to be savoured and re-read. Elizabeth Varadan