The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
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A powerful novel of the infamous Western outlaw and his killer: “The best blend of fiction and history I’ve read in a long while” (John Irving).
By age thirty-four, Jesse James was already one of the most notorious and admired men in America. Bank robber, train bandit, gang leader, killer, and beloved son of Missouri—
James’s many epithets live on in newspapers and novels alike. As his celebrity was reaching its apex, James met Robert Ford, the brother of a James gang member—an awkward, antihero-worshipping twenty-year-old with stars in his eyes. The young man’s fascination with the legend borders on jealous obsession: While Ford wants to ride alongside James as his most-trusted confidant, sharing his spotlight is not enough. As a bond forms between the two men, Ford realizes that the only way he’ll ever be as powerful as his idol is to become him; he must kill James and take his mantle. In the striking novel that inspired the film of the same name starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, bestselling author Ron Hansen retells a classic Wild West story that has long captured the nation’s imagination, and breathes new life into the final days and ignoble death of an iconic American man.
“This is great storytelling . . . Ron Hansen has one of the most accomplished prose styles in contemporary fiction, and this narrative is the best blend of fiction and history I’ve read in a long while.” —John Irving
“Retelling the familiar stories, making them fresh, finding in them an unresolvable mystery about fame and ambition in America, this book is a wonderful achievement.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Ron Hansen has turned low history into high art . . . This is a terrific book.” —Newsday
Ron Hansen is the author of eight novels, two collections of stories, and a book of essays. He graduated from Creighton University in Omaha and went on to study at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University. His novel Atticus was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. His novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, was adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. Hansen has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives with his wife, novelist Bo Caldwell, in Northern California, and teaches at Santa Clara University.