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Northfield: A Western Story Paperback – June 25, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When the James-Younger gang rode into Northfield, Minn., in September 1876, Jesse James and his saddle pals figured robbing the town's bank would be easy money. But this lively and entertaining western-filled with gun smoke, hot lead and accurate historical action-shows how wrong they were. Spur Award-winner Boggs tells this exciting tale using the first person narrative of 24 historic characters, including Frank and Jesse James; the Younger brothers; Bill Chadwell (aka Bill Stiles), who claimed the Northfield raid was his idea; Anselm R. Manning, who plugs an outlaw early in the battle; and plenty of others. Though the robbery netted just $26.40, the wild gunfight left bullet-riddled bodies and puddles of blood all over town. Add in the prostitute who knew too much, the grave-robbing medical student and the farmer who just wanted to shoot an outlaw, and Boggs (The Hart Brand; etc.) has created a vibrant retelling of the Old West's most notorious and deadly bank robbery flop.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

There's a fine line between being a desperado and being just plain desperate. The James-Younger gang discovered this crucial distinction one ill-fated day when they set out to rob a Yankee bank in Northfield, Minnesota, a town they figured would be easily cowed by a few rebel yells. No master tacticians--their basic plan being to ride into town and, if the moment feels ripe, then go ahead and rob the bank; if not, ride on--it's no big surprise that everything goes straight to hell, along with a few of the bandits themselves. Boggs recounts the action from a different perspective in each chapter, from the James brothers--reckless and violent Jesse and scripture-quoting Frank--to a five-year-old daughter of a murdered bank teller not quite able to get what all the fuss is about, to indignant members of the subsequent posses. The kaleidoscopic effect pays handsome rewards, fueling the action from all vantage points in concise, frenetic bursts that might even leave you feeling a mite poorly for those doomed outlaws. Ian Chipman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonEncore; Reprint edition (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147780708X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1477807088
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Benjamin Boulden on January 6, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The James-Younger gang has been done too many times in modern Western fiction, but Johnny D. Boggs has found a fresh perspective in his novel NORTHFIELD. It chronicles the events of the Northfield, Minnesota raid that claimed the lives of two gang members and saw all three of the Younger brothers jailed. It is the story of the downfall of the gang.

It is written in multiple perspectives; the opening and closing scenes are in the voice of Cole Younger, and each chapter between is in the voice of an eyewitness to the events. The narrators include all of the gang members--Frank and Jesse James, Bill Stiles, Clell Miller, Charlie Pitts and Jim, Bob and Cole Younger--as well as a large assortment of witnesses including a prostitute, the former Governor of Mississippi Adelbert Ames, an innkeeper and the boy who first saw the Younger brothers limping out of Minnesota. The style is noticeably different for each narrator; at times it is subtle with stronger and different word choices and other times it is a hard and distinct shift from literate to less literate and even near illiterate.

The story sprawls across the pages with a vivid recreation of the events. Johnny D. Boggs does not make a moral judgment on the players. The gang is portrayed with an astonishingly effective blend of villain and common man. They are not necessarily good men, but neither are they bad men. The Youngers, specifically Cole, are humanized and made more real than I have experienced them before in film or literature. The James brothers are viewed less favorably, especially Jesse, but even they are viewed as whole people and not cardboard folk heroes or black-hearted villains.
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Johnny D. Boggs is one of my favorite authors, and Northfield is one of his best books. Like many other readers, I was familiar with the famous failed bank robbery. I've read the books and accounts, seen the movies and documentaries over the years. Northfield is a big step up from all of them.
When an author can capture and hold a reader's attention with a story the reader may have been exposed to a dozen times before - well, it takes a gifted author to do that. Boggs' story is the only one I've seen that puts you smack dab in the middle of the action with an intimate, first-person account of each character. With each new chapter, you become an outlaw, a sheriff, a banker, a farmer, a child, or the innocent person on the street.
If you know anything about Jesse and Frank James or the Younger brothers, you'll appreciate the author's impeccable research. But it's tough to imagine how you can identify with a child's tragedy, and yet sympathize with the outlaw who caused it until you read Johnny D. Boggs' Northfield. I highly recommend this one.
Frank Allan Rogers, author Upon A Crazy Horse
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This is a good western biology of the James and Younger gang that made a trip north to Wisconsin. And their capture and subsequent life. I like the way the author made it like the people they came in contact with seem to be telling the story.
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I enjoyed this interesting take on the Northfield Raid. I thought the author did a fine job weaving together the various perspectives/narratives of the people that encountered the James/Younger Gang on their infamous raid.
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Loved the way the story moved ahead through words of the people involved. A nice way to learn the history of the event. The read moved quickly, was well written and informative. Loved "Northfield" and recommend it highly.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I like the way Boggs tries to look at the event from several different perspectives. It is hard to get into anyone's head let alone people who no longer are alive, and you have not known personally. It sound like he researched the subject pretty well and it is always nice to get a history lesson the easy way.
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I really enjoyed the approach taken by the author. The writing was excellent. He captured both the different perspectives and voices of the characters and wove them into a tightly structured and entirely believable rendition of an oft told story. If you're looking for your next favorite western author, look no further.
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The author did a masterful job retelling the events of the failed Northfield, Minnesota bank robbery. Even though I knew the outcome, Boggs' novel kept my attention by telling the story as seen by those directly involved. Also, his use of language and words of the day took you back in time. I'm from Minnesota and have been hearing of the event detailed in the book for years but it was still fun to be taken back to that date almost 150 years ago. I would recommend the book..
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