America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 18-20.

ACADEME BLOG

Hansen, Ron.  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  New York: Knopf, 1983.

After treating the history of the Dalton gang in his first novel, Desperadoes (1979), Hansen explored the final days in the life of America’s most famous outlaw, Jesse James. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is interesting for Hansen’s careful pacing and his painstaking integration of period detail.

Moreover, Hansen offers very engaging and credible depictions of the states of mind of his two principles, Jesse James and Robert Ford.  He emphasizes that at this point, late in his criminal career, Jesse James is facing all sorts of practical dilemmas.  The efforts to bring him to justice are intensifying even as he struggles to reconstitute his gang after the disastrous raid in Northfield, Minnesota.  At the same time, James is very much aware that he is the most famous…

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