Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life and Death of an Outlaw

Life and Death of an Outlaw
Dragon Views - A Dragon's-eye View of the Literary World
Jesse James' Secret: Codes, Cover-ups & Hidden Treasure
Ron Pastore and John O'Melveny Woods
Intellect Publishing
Paperback, 304 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible
The notorious outlaw, Jesse James did not die in April of 1882 as we have been led to believe by history; or so author Ron Pastore would have us believe. He has done over a decade of research attempting to prove that history is either outright wrong or that we have been deliberately deceived. Ron tends to believe the latter, and in this book, puts forth what he has learned about the life and death of Jesse James. Greatly complicating matters, three distinctly different men of approximately the same age were using the name Jesse James. Genealogical research proves that the three men were cousins. There is much information contained in 15 appendices at the back of the book, some of which is helpful and some merely confusing.
While interesting and easy to read, Jesse James' Secret is not as detailed as I had hoped for and the glimpses of evidence provided by the authors are not very convincing - until you get to the photographs. With keen observational skills the photographs of Jesse James can be divided into three groups; each group of photos matches the description of a different one of the three cousins. If the photos can be believed at all, I'm pretty sure I know who died in 1882...
There are a few typographical errors in this book, though it is not riddled with such errors as are other books I've read, however, much of the content doesn't seem to belong in a book about Jesse James.  There is some confusing information about the Knights of the Golden Circle and other information about codes written on cave walls and massive amounts of buried treasure - the ill-gotten proceeds of the many robberies committed by the James gang. Some of the information is loosely tied together, some just doesn't seem as if it belongs at all.
If you're interested in non-fiction books about the old west and want to read for entertainment, then you might like this book. If you're looking for a book that covers the topic in depth, or in a more scholarly fashion, then this isn't the book for you.
Above review is based on the trade paperback edition provided to me free by the publisher.