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

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Overview

It was the most famous bank robbery of all time, involving the legendary James-Younger gang's final, shocking holdup—the infamous Northfield Raid—and the thrilling two-week chase that followed. Mark Lee Gardner, author of the critically acclaimed To Hell on a Fast Horse, takes us inside Northfield's First National Bank and outside to the streets as Jesse James and his band of outlaws square off against the heroic citizens who risked their lives to defeat America's most daring criminals. With vivid detail and ...

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

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Overview

It was the most famous bank robbery of all time, involving the legendary James-Younger gang's final, shocking holdup—the infamous Northfield Raid—and the thrilling two-week chase that followed. Mark Lee Gardner, author of the critically acclaimed To Hell on a Fast Horse, takes us inside Northfield's First National Bank and outside to the streets as Jesse James and his band of outlaws square off against the heroic citizens who risked their lives to defeat America's most daring criminals. With vivid detail and novelistic verve, Gardner follows the James brothers as they elude both the authorities and the furious citizen posses hell-bent on capturing them—one of the largest manhunts in the history of the United States. He reveals the serendipitous endings of the Younger brothers, Cole, Jim, and Bob, and explores the James brothers' fates after the dust settled, solving mysteries about the raid that have been hotly debated for more than 130 years.

A galloping true tale of frontier justice featuring audacious outlaws and intrepid heroes, Shot All to Hell is a riveting slice of Wild West history that continues to fascinate today.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Greg Tobin
Gardner's book introduces the brothers at the start of their prolonged crime spree, but the heart of his story is the 1876 Northfield, Minn., raid and its aftermath, which he depicts in rollicking style.
Publishers Weekly
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)
New York Times
Rollicking. ... Equal parts violent melodrama and meticulous procedural... with enough bloody action to engage readers enthralled by tales of good versus evil.”
Washington Post
Rewarding. ... Gardner’s re-creation of the Northfield Raid... orchestrates the often-unwieldy particulars of the event with considerable virtuosity. ... It would be hard to imagine a more thorough account.”
New York Times Book Review
Rollicking. ... Equal parts violent melodrama and meticulous procedural... with enough bloody action to engage readers enthralled by tales of good versus evil.”
New York Journal of Books
Superb. ... Mr. Gardner earns an A+ for his research and an A++ for his writing.
Booklist
“[This] bullet-by-bullet account... sheds considerable light on a neglected aspect of the gang’s life of crime... well done.”
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061989483
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 167,831
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Lee Gardner is the author of To Hell on a Fast Horse, the story of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett. An authority on the American West, Gardner has appeared on PBS's American Experience, ABC's World News, the History Channel, Encore Westerns, NPR's All Things Considered, and BBC Radio. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, American Heritage, Wild West, American Cowboy, and New Mexico magazine. Gardner lives with his family in Cascade, Colorado.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    Just reading the first chapter, I felt like I was a passenger ne

    Just reading the first chapter, I felt like I was a passenger needing to hide my valuables like the others. Clear and well researched!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 7, 2013

    Mr. Gardner's book sheds interesting new light on the Younger an

    Mr. Gardner's book sheds interesting new light on the Younger and James brothers robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. He does a very good job in laying the foundation regarding the events and the paths the outlaws tramped leading up to the failed robbery attempt and the subsequent manhunt and capture of the outlaws who escaped. I found the story to be well written and thought the details provided in the Epilogue were especially interesting. Those who enjoy reading about historical events involving outlaws or just wanting to know more about our history, will like this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Very good.

    I liked the book. I have read several books on the James and Younger gang. The book keeps your interest.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Exciting read

    Well written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Good Story

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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