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The James Boys: A Novel Account of Four Desperate Brothers
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The James Boys: A Novel Account of Four Desperate Brothers

2.98 of 5 stars 2.98  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A provocative and strikingly original new voice in fiction reinvents the historical novel–along with American history itself–in this wry “what if?” that merges and mashes up four of our most famous and infamous national icons.
Historian Otis Pease once remarked that the story of nineteenth-century America could be encompassed in the lives of the two sets of James brothers–W
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by Random House (first published 2008)
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Nancy Packard
Read this book for our book club. Not a great response from the club. Vocabulary was too fussy and a little vulgar in places. Wouldn't recommend it. Doesn't flow well.
(copied review) What if two of the most notorious outlaws of the 19th century--brothers Frank and Jesse James--were related to two of the era's greatest minds: novelist Henry James and his philosopher brother William? That's the premise of this thought-provoking and hilarious debut novel, which chronicles a year in the life of these disparate sets of siblings, beginning with a train robbery and careening through a flurry of madcap misadventures. Noting the high times and daring crimes in this im ...more
A really fun read. Every page is full of big vocabulary words that you don't often see but whose meaning can be approximately ascertained by the context without resorting to the dictionary. The author lampoons everyone but especially the intellectual snobs of the 2nd half of the 19th century. Although suffragettes, outlaws, lawmen, etc all gets subtle and not so subtle jabs. It is in no sense to be taken seriously and the frequent quotes were probable taken out of context of various actual writi ...more
Don Weidinger
novel Rocky Cut train robbery California MO, William Henry east Jesse Frank west, private eye we never sleep, union guerilla to confederate guerilla, identity swaps played fast and loose with truth, Northfield individuals defend town with own guns, Henry left in MN, William in MA, guns whores horses, hunger for redemption, guns kill people, Frank 1915 say nothing, liberty better husband than love.
A historical novel that pulls together two famous sets of James brothers (Jesse and Frank (outlaws) and Henry and William (psychologist/author)) into one unpredictable life. An entertaining read more for it's audacity than for plot or character development. I think this book would have been a lot more fun if I could have actually separated the real history from the fake.
Kristen Case
oh, so disappointing! a brilliant premise (the new england james' are secretly related to the outlaw james'), but actually pretty shallow. some funny moments, but these are outweighed, in the end, by pretty rampant sexism throughout. and did I mention the james-brothers-don-blackface scene? exactly as offensive as it sounds.
The book itself was an interesting concept. However the swing from novel/storytelling to historic fact providing was jarring. As soon as I felt invested in the story Liebmann-Smith would swing off on a non-fictional monologue. I like both styles of writing separately, I just could not reconcile them to each other.
This was a fun read - a fictionalized account written as non fiction. About what would happen if Henry James, Jesse James, William James and Frank James had actually been brothers. Funny, comical, and very wry, you will have fun with this if you've ever read Henry James or studied Wester history and the James gang.
This was AWESOME. It was like Lemony Snicket for adult academics. Beautifully constructed, fantastic use of vocabulary, and a terrifically witty spoof on academic writing. I loved it.

This book was a romp! Very entertaining, clever and well-written. I thought it was extremely well-thought out and I loved the vocabulary in this book. I will read this one again.
Great the thought of Henry James as the long-lost brother of Frank and Jesse James...
Interesting concept but bit boring at times for me.
I found this story fascinating and funny.
Mary Hawkins
Mary Hawkins marked it as to-read
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