Ron Hansen was the first writer to approach the mythology of the West with the intent of rewriting history, to show the mixed motives and dubious intentions of heroes and outlaws alike. Drawing on contemporary records, newspapers and courtroom reports The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford creates a vivid, detailed description of the James gang and the America that created them, and builds a stunning portrait of one of the founding myths of the United States. Hansen re-creates the real West of the most famous outlaw of them all, Jesse James, and of his death at the hands of Robert Ford. Ford is drawn to Jesse, uncertain if he wants to serve or destroy him, or somehow become him. James, a charismatic, superstitious, and moody man, controls his ragged gang who fear his temper and quick shooting.