Historian Otis Pease once remarked that the story of nineteenth-century America could be encompassed in the lives of the two sets of James brothers–William and Henry in the East, Frank and Jesse in the West. The James Boys goes further by making all four of them the fruit of the same family tree and showing how it shakes out.
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Suddenly, the train is stopped and robbed–and not by just any bandits but by the legendary James Gang. Taken hostage by the brigands, Henry realizes to his unspeakable horror that Jesse and Frank are in fact “Rob” and “Wilky,” his long-lost brothers, who had disappeared during the Civil War and been presumed dead for more than a decade.
From there the ride only gets wilder, careening through underbrush and ivory towers, throwing together America’s greatest intellectuals and most notorious outlaws in a saga of six-guns and sherry that is peopled by a fascinating roster of passengers, both historical and imagined. Most prominent among them are Elena Hite, a feisty young feminist deeply aroused by the down-and-dirty charisma of the criminal Jesse; Alice Gibbens, the eminently sensible schoolteacher engaged to the sexually inexperienced William, who tempts him to stay put rather than joining Henry out West; and William Pinkerton, the renowned detective hot on all of their trails–especially Elena’s.
Based on and incorporating actual events, The James Boys is a through-the-looking-glass romp that boldly blends both sides of the American character–the brilliant and the barbaric–in one unforgettable family and one seriously entertaining story.
From the Hardcover edition.