Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review - Jesse James' Secret by Ron Pastore and John O'Melveny Woods


  • Jesse James' Secret
  • Ron Pastore and John O'Melveny Woods
  • Intellect Publishing, 2010, Trade Paperback
  • ISBN: 0972976167

I have to admit that I felt a certain piqued interest in this book when I first saw it offered for review. New evidence of historical value concerning Jesse James presented with a compelling argument and firm historical research was an exciting thought. The reality, however, was far from the promise I imagined. After reading through the first six or seven chapters my interest gave way to incredulousness and yes, a bit of annoyance. The term Genealogy bug, or the passion for family tree research, came to my mind as I continued reading. Pastore, while quite enthusiastic about the subject and invested in ways ill-defined, provides very little solid evidence to prove his hypothesis which is exactly the trap that many novice genealogist fall into. In plain terms, I don’t think there’s anything new or relevant presented here to change anyone’s mind. As such I’d have to categorize Jesse James’ Secret as pseudo-history at best with an emphasis on the word “pseudo.”

Historical research aside the book itself suffers on many other levels, as well. There is an obvious overuse of idiom and cliché. While I would probably be quite happy to find my way out of a cave after hours of being lost I certainly wouldn’t “kiss the ground” when I did. This was the most blatant and tedious cliché that I found but there are many others and they distracted from the message. That alone made me close this book well before I reached the halfway point. I remember thinking that the author presented the information in this book not so much as to illuminate the reader on a new theory or hypothesis but to win an argument with someone who disagreed with his notions. And while there may have been new information here, in the end, it was presented in such a way as to leave me confused over the point.

Did Jesse James fake his own death? Possibly. Did Jesse James and gang hide treasure in the caves of Missouri and Kansas? Probably. But this book does not present any clear evidence to support either theory.


2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin


Anonymous said...

I actually read the book and the original forensic report AND have seen photos of the wall which Jesse James was supposed to be killed in front of.

The body showed signs of a struggle and had a bullet inside of the skull, no exit wound and was of the wrong caliber and type to match the gun owned a nd purportedly used by Ford.If the bullet made a hole in the wall it would have had to pass through his head leaving splatter on the wall, NOT a bloody handprint. Pastore's writing is not great but I was convinced that JJ did NOT die in 1882.

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