Books: Killer from Missouri

Desperate Men (296 pp.)—James D. Horan—Putnam ($4).

He was born one day In the county of Clay And came from a solitary race.

Jesse James's posthumous pressagents; the ballad singers, have molded him to heroic proportions. So have most of his biographers. Lacking anything sounder than a dubious mixture of octogenarians gossip and Missouri legend on which to base their judgments, they have served up a dauntless, do-gooding 19th Century Robin Hood who carried the honor of the Old South in one hand and a parcel for the poor in the other. Few in the ballad...

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