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The Lost Cause (Paperback)

The Trials of Frank and Jesse James

True Crime American History

By James P. Muehlberger
Imprint: Westholme
Pages: 255
ISBN: 9781594162800
Published: 21st August 2017

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On a dreary December 7, 1869, two men entered the Davies's County Savings and Loan in Gallatin, Missouri, and shot the cashier at point-blank range. Until now, this crime has been considered the first of a string of bank and train robberies committed by the James Gang. But a rumor had circulated for more than a century that the case was actually brought to trial—and it was through this case that twenty-two-year-old Jesse was first identified as a criminal to the country. But no evidence for such an action could be found. After years of searching through dusty court archives across Missouri, James P. Muehlberger finally discovered the historic documents.

The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James is a thrilling account of the rise, pursuit, and prosecution of the legendary outlaw gang. Beginning with the newfound evidence of the Gallatin bank teller murder, the author explains how Jesse James attempted to avenge the death of his Confederate partisan leader, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, but shot the wrong man. Having lost his own horse, Jesse stole another. Lawyer Henry McDougal brashly sued Jesse and Frank James for the loss of the property, which would hang the murder on their heads. While Jesse professed his innocence, his case was taken up by John Newman Edwards, editor of the Kansas City Times. Through Edwards’s pen, the James brothers were transformed from petty criminals to noble outlaws still fighting for Southern honor—the “Lost Cause.” Not fooled, McDougal and others, including Pinkerton detectives and the governor of Missouri, led a behind-the-scenes fight to bring down the gang. After Jesse was shot by a paid informant in 1882, Frank James gave himself up, and in what was called the “trial of the century,” he was exonerated on all charges. Combining true crime and western adventure, The Lost Cause is engaging, entertaining history.

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About James P. Muehlberger

JAMES P. MUEHLBERGER is a partner at the Shook, Hardy & Bacon law firm in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of The 116: The True Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Guard, and his articles have appeared in a number of publications, including the National Law Journal, For the Defense, and Wild West Magazine.

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