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

Written by Mark Lee Gardner
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

On Thursday, September 7, 1876, eight men, led by the infamous outlaw Jesse James, pulled off the most famous bank robbery in history. They traveled from Missouri to Northfield, Minnesota to relieve the First National Bank of its funds. Gardner follows the steps of the James-Younger gang, from the planning of the raid to the large manhunt following the robbery.

The book contains over 45 pages of notes and an extensive list of resources, using voluminous primary source material. The narrative chronicles the exploits of the gang members before, during and after the raid, while also following the key people of Northfield who fought the bank robbers during the raid, and those individuals that formed posses that chased the outlaws during the two week-long manhunt. The author also solves the mystery of who shot and killed the bank’s acting cashier during the robbery.

As an added feature, the book explains how each of the outlaws met their demise, including the death of Jesse James at the hands of a member of his gang a few years later.

This is the method that should be used to write non-fiction books. He makes the characters come to life, writing in a narrative style similar to a novel but without the dialog. Highly recommended.