• Jesse James

  • Last Rebel of the Civil War
  • By: T. J. Stiles
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)

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Jesse James  By  cover art

Jesse James

By: T. J. Stiles
Narrated by: Christopher Lane
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Publisher's Summary

In this brilliant biography T. J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking work Stiles places James within the context of the bloody conflicts of the Civil War to reveal a much more complicated and significant figure. 

Raised in a fiercely pro-slavery household in bitterly divided Misssouri, at age sixteenJames became a bushwhacker, one of the savage Confederate guerrillas that terrorized the border states. After the end of the war, James continued his campaign of robbery and murder into the brutal era of reconstruction, when his reckless daring, his partisan pronouncements, and his alliance with the sympathetic editor John Newman Edwards placed him squarely at the forefront of the former Confederates’ bid to recapture political power. With meticulous research and vivid accounts of the dramatic adventures of the famous gunman, T. J. Stiles shows how he resembles not the apolitical hero of legend, but rather a figure ready to use violence to command attention for a political cause - in many ways, a forerunner of the modern terrorist.

©2002 T. J. Stiles (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Jesse James

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The best book on Jesse James!

This book is like a gritty Western that brings Jesse James to life. It is very eloquently written with vivid in-depth descriptions of his many escapades. The auditor is excellent as well. I've been waiting for this to come out on Audible for several years now, as I already own the book. 5 stars!!! I highly recommend this book!

5 people found this helpful

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no jesse james Book not about jesse james book

book about politics and revisionist history
total waste of time
don't buy this book
please

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not much about Jesse

If you want to listen to a very long screed about white supremacy, this is your book. To the very limited extent Jesse James is discussed, it’s poor. If I had to pick the point where the author lost me for good, it would be where he dwells on 16 year old James’ failure to philosophically reflect upon his killings in proper existential fashion like George Orwell meditated upon having killed an elephant (seriously). 1) Neither we nor the author will ever know what he did or did not privately reflect upon. 2) He was a 16 year old kid! I slogged through another hour or so and finally quit. Here, as in so many places in the book, the shots are cheap, the comparisons ridiculous, and the analysis foolish.

And he somehow manages to omit the destruction of Osceola as a motivation for the attack on Lawrence. While not the most important factor, it was a pretty big deal.

This is one of the very few history books I’ve ever given up on after getting less than halfway through. It’s bad.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting history, also with Jesse James

For what it is, a political and military history of the Civil War in Missouri, and an account of various factions of political parties in the establishment and dissolution of Reconstruction post-war, it's quite entertaining. Very informative and thorough. Clearly, Jesse James is the linchpin to the project, but he rarely is the star of what is presumably his own story. The author does a good job demonstrating how Jesse James' self-promotion and the promotion by like-minded people of the time created the mythology surrounding the man. Like the lost cause, Jesse James as some legitimate Robin Hood figure was nothing more than pure confederate fantasy.

2 people found this helpful

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Great listen, entertaining while historical

Tells the story of what happened while delving into the backstory of why it happened.

1 person found this helpful

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A good book on the best outlaw

the narration was great, the information is mostly accurate, to much time spent on misulanius information

1 person found this helpful

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Borderline woke retelling of the era JJ live in

To be clear, I wouldn’t go quite as far as to call this woke - but it’s close. Basically ever single northern negative trait or rumor about the south and James is repeated as a fact, while every yankee atrocity is justified. I get it - Jesse James wasn’t a good guy - but this author feels the beat you over the head with it.

Additionally the author feels the need to spend nearly an hour near the beginning of the book explaining to you, the simpleton reading this book, that slavery was bad. It’s truly obnoxious stuff - the fact he thinks his readers are not just idiots, but racists, who are going to be shocked at his hot take.

Also he author feels the need to give you a modern psychologist take on James. If there is anyone more pompous than this author - it’s whoever he interviewed to get that opinion.

With that said - when the author sticks to the subject and just lets the story tell itself, it can be interesting and informative. I don’t understand why author feels the need to do more than just retell the story of events, as they happened, in an entertaining way. Doing so let’s the reader understand why someone is good or bad and they’ll actually believe that opinion since they came to it on their own. Had the author done that - this would have been a dramatically better, and shorter, book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Decent, but selective history

The background of the Missouri-Kansas border war is rather skewed and the violence and brutality of the Kansas Red Legs and Jayhawkers is actively downplayed and often outright omitted to create a specific narrative.

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Book has very little to do with the title.

Was looking forward to a historical read about Jesse James and got a story about T.J. Stiles opinion on slavery and his slant on anything historical from that period.

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    3 out of 5 stars

A Little Slow on the Draw

Well researched but heavy on the political influence of the times, at times it felt that it forgot about Jesse James altogether.
It refocuses about the Northfield Bank robbery and ends well, although at the end it drags again in its summation.
Jesse James was an outlaw and I think the author tried to show a even account of the man- neither as hero or complete villain. I still recommend the book, but warn it’s a little dry and feel no closer to understanding the real man.