A couple months ago I finished reading Shot All to Hell, by Mark Lee Gardner. Here's what I thought:
I chose this book because the synopsis seemed really interesting. It was more interesting than the synopsis lead me to believe. To be honest, the synopsis did draw me in, but then I thought to myself, "This is going to be bland..." as history-based books are wont to be. I was wrong. (Please note I did not judge the book by it's cover!)
This book covers what leads up to, and the aftermath of, the last bank robbery committed by Jesse James and his gang. The James Gang were responsible for quite a few robberies, and netted themselves some good spoils. Sometimes they didn't net so much...
Gardner gathered the facts, and represented them well, even giving them somewhat of a "story" kind of spin in parts. Some of it was story, really, when it features the wives of some of the people robbed, wondering what happened to their families. I am sure accounts were taken from them, but it still lends itself to being a story.
I knew little of the James gang before reading this, and little of where Jesse and his brother began. Gardner shed some light on those two, and the other members of the gang that committed the last robbery. The members of his gang (aside from his brother, Frank) I knew nothing about. Learning about them, and their backgrounds, were just as interesting as learning more about the Jameses.
Gardner tells the tale well, even getting information from the residents of Northfield, Minnesota (where the robbery took place). Seeing how some of the residents acted to what happened in their town was quite interesting. People actually stepped up, and helped to keep some of James' gang at bay.
I would definitely love to pick up an actual biography of Jesse James, after reading Shot all to Hell! I think you guys might enjoy it, as well!