In the summer of 1876, the robber gang made up of Jesse and Frank James, with Cole and Bob Younger, were in hot water. The Pinkerton Detectives and the government of Missouri had been pushing them pretty hard. One botched Pinkerton raid had caused the death of a little James cousin; another had caused the death of a neighboring woman. Jesse and Frank decided it was time to head north for a while, to Minnesota.
After several weeks of scouting, they decided to hit the First National Bank in Northfield, a small town with a new college. They didn’t count on a bank Treasurer who refused to open the vault and, far worse, a town with people determined to protect their bank. In a surprise shootout, two of the outlaws were killed and the others fled on horseback with various wounds. The survivors became the product of the biggest manhunt in U.S. history to that point. Amazingly, the James Brothers managed to escape, with entirely different fates in their futures.
The book is well-written and researched. It’s a bit of a slow start, as Gardner gives us all of the background; but once the gang gets to Minnesota, the tension grows until the explosion of violence in Northfield. The description of the escape and the manhunt is heart-pounding.
Not my usual genre. This book was very well researched, many photos from the period, all of the dialogue in quotation is taken from court documents, 1876 newspaper accounts, etc. The author found archived documents that had not been previously noticed. I found it very interesting, a more-or-less factual account of the Northfield, Minnesota, deadly bank heist that put the Younger brothers in jail and in which the James brothers famously got away. He even tells you the colour of the horses they rode. Lots of macabre photos of corpses, might not be appropriate for very young readers.
spacecat thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over
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