Category Archives: Media

Beta Readers Wanted !

chapter sample

BETA READERS WANTED to preview and critique Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet. The book is a non-fiction, narrative, historical biography with copious end notes. Previous knowledge of Jesse James or his family is beneficial, but not required.

This Bloody Ground continues the epic saga of the Jesse James family begun in Volume I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

Volume II introduces for the first time the history of John M. James, the outlaw’s grandfather. From John’s service in the American Revolution when John first associates with the great-grandfather of the Younger Gang, to John’s engagement with a band of rebel Baptist preachers who barter disobedience to the Crown and patriotic allegiance for the separation of church and state, ending in their exile from Virginia into the wilderness of Kentucky in a Traveling Church, John learns the lessons of conflict, confrontation, and nonconformity that his progeny will inherit.

On America’s first frontier, John struggles against the ever-present violence with Native people to create settlement communities and a safe home for his fraying family. He is witness to land grabbing predators, Kentucky’s separation movement, and the treachery and intrigues of “The Spanish Conspiracy.” He associates with the forebears of the Jesse James in-law families, as well as with ancestors of Quantrill Guerillas. Doggedly, he struggles to settle the land, create commerce, and to give the government and social institutions necessary for self-determination. All that, and nationhood itself, becomes threatened by the War of 1812. John’s fellow bands of rebel preachers, now graying, wobble to war for their last conflict, as John dispatches his son and extended family. Fearing his impending demise, John prays, “God, give me more time!” He is dedicated to one more revolution – against government’s victimization of its citizens through financial manipulation. This time, against banks!

My only request is that you commit to reading the entire book or chapters given you, and to offer substantive criticism, analysis, or commentary. Preference will be given to those who have read Volume I of JJSL.

The chapters will be provided to you in your choice of pdf or doc format. You will receive two parts of the book initially, with the last third part only after notification that you’ve read the first two. The length of the book is no more than 500 pages, which includes roughly 100 pages of citations and notes. The time period for your completion and commentary is 90 days.

Please email me if you are interested.

Amazon Highlights “Incorrect Facts” Discrepancy seized upon the discrepancy between a 2-star review and a 5-star review for Jesse James Soul Liberty as written by two Amazon customers. A third Amazon customer asked the same question of the writer of “Incorrect facts” that I did. Below is my personal reaction to the issue, that also was posted to Amazon’s observation of discrepancy.

amazon comments

Some might expect an author to become argumentative about criticism like this. I will not bite the hand that fed me.

On the day after Virginia J. Church posted her criticism here, I emailed her as follows:

“Hi Virginia, I was shocked to read your Amazon review of my book, copied here…I would have thought if you had any disagreement with the facts as written that you would have presented them to me directly, so they could be corrected promptly. I certainly don’t mind any critique of presentation, ideas, typos, etc. but to criticize facts as you did is devastating to a history book and its prospects for being read.

“This book is built upon facts. I have worked very hard and very diligently to be both accurate and correct. I respectfully request that you provide a list of each and every fact with which you take issue. I will make every effort to correct it.” – To this, I have received no response.

I also sent the same invitation to Virginia’s daughter, the author and publisher Jacqueline Church Simonds, who had posted a favorable supportive review of my book here but then deleted it following her mother’s review.  I have received no response from her either.

I posted my assessment of this issue on the James family’s official blog Leaves of Gas. I acknowledged the following to its community of James family, book readers, and subscribers.

“I was pleased to have the cooperation of my Amazon critic, Virginia J. Church. In our written interviews, she provided valuable history about her part of the James family. She also provided photographs not seen before. Researching her content independently afterward, most everything she offered checked out as true. What could not be verified was left out of the book. Our relationship, I thought, was cordial, constructive, and friendly. I take pride in the James family who participated in my book, and the relationships with them that have resulted.”

Two days before Virginia posted her comment, I accepted the Milton F. Perry Award for this book, in which I shared the award with those members of the James family who contributed so generously to the book. This also included Virginia Church. My acceptance was shared with them on Leaves of Gas also. Anyone can read it.

Whatever criticism Virginia or her daughter may have about me is irrelevant. What is relevant is the facts of their family history. My invitation to Virginia and her daughter remains open. However, if they are indifferent to the invitation or give no response, it can only be assumed that their concern is not sufficiently meaningful enough to call for being any more accurately depicted. If they allow the history to stand as written, it is their determination.

As I’ve stated publicly, the James family made this book. It is their words, their interviews, their memoirs, etc. that documents their history.  I’ve been privileged to compile this ground- breaking history, give it context, and offer analysis. Someday my interviews with Virginia Church and others in the book will make their way into a public archive, available to anyone. Meanwhile, readers may contact me directly through our various websites. I stand ever ready to discuss whatever questions or criticisms comes the way of this book.

The Ghost of Jesse James is in Selma, Alabama – Believe it, or NOT!

Celebrity attachment to an American outlaw is good for business. Since his assassination, countless newspapers and businesses have capitalized on the icon of Jesse Woodson James. Like most advertising and promotion, though, what passes as fact is more often than not lies, distortions, or simply fraud.

Today’s event of lies and fraudulent branding comes from Kelly Kazek, in an article Kazek wrote on, a website for three Alabama newspapers.

Kelly Kazak
Kelly Kazek

Writing about “Haunting Tales from Ghost Town Tours,” Kazek featured the St. James Hotel in Selma, Alabama.  The journalist wrote, “In 1881, Frank and Jesse James and members of their gang took a vacation from robbing and killing and vacationed at The Brantly, according to the hotel website.” The Brantly today is Selma’s historic St. James Hotel.

A review of the website for the St. James Hotel confirms what the hotel claims. “Following the war, Benjamin Sterling Turner operated the hotel; the first African-American ever elected to the United States Congress and is reputed to have hosted the legendary outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse James in 1881.”


If true, this would be welcome new history to the Jesse James genre, on many levels. What exactly was the relationship of Turner to the notorious outlaws? To what purpose were Frank and Jesse associating with an elected member of the United States Congress? We know nothing about Benjamin Sterling Turner that links him to Frank and Jesse James. But we do know where Frank and Jesse were in 1881. The story offered by Kazek and the St. James Hotel don’t add up.

Wishing to confront the St. James Hotel with the known and recognized factual record, we emailed Kelly Kazek, asking how long her story would stay on the internet. Her tart email response was, “As long as there is an internet.”  Really?

Kazek also asked what claims we believed were false. She didn’t wait for our response, however, before our email response was blocked as spam. Fine enough, Kazek can be notified of our reply below or via Facebook.

failed email delivery

Kazek had added to her story of the St. James that the ghost of Jesse James stalks the old hotel in “cowboy clothes” with a girlfriend named Lucinda and Jesse’s dog which “accompanied the James gang.”

We stated in reply to Kazek’s question, “There was no James Gang after 1876 when the Younger brothers were captured, convicted, and imprisoned. Jesse James lived in Nebraska and St. Joe, Missouri in the period the hotel claims. Jesse James never was a cowboy. He was first a partisan combatant of the Civil War, and after, though arguably, a criminal. No evidence has ever been produced linking Jesse James to any woman other than his wife. He was a devoted husband and father.”

Straying from historical fact is expected among journalists with no claim to history. But Kelley Kazek is the author of The Hidden History of Auburn (AL.) and several other history books. You expect factual reporting from such an author. Then again, Kelly Kazek disappeared on us as quickly as her ghost of Jesse James.

St. James Hotel
Jesse James reported the hotel reeked of Southern pretension – Believe it, or not!


Making (up) History Every Day

History Channel

It appears the cable channel formerly known as the History Channel is not about to give up manufacturing bogus Jesse James history.

This week I was contacted by a production company seeking to associate Jesse James with the Knights of the Golden Circle. My response was, “Good luck in finding something that doesn’t exist.” I then directed the production company to the numerous posting links below from our blog, Leaves of Gas, for details on my terse response.

A final email to me from the production company stated, “I will go ahead and advise my team not to pursue this myth.” While the production may have given up, I expect to hear from History again no doubt in the future. After all, they’re “Making (up) History Every Day.”


Jesse James, Lost Treasure, & the Golden Circle – Where’s the Beef?

The Latest Fake Jesse James History From Ron Pastore

James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Bogus History & Fantasy from The History Channel

Jesse James Hidden Treasure: Laughable “science”

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter One

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter Two

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter Three

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Chapter 4 deconstructed

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Chapter 5 Deconstructed

Newman University Promotes Bogus Jesse James Historian Ron Pastore

Jesse James Family Challenges Newman University’s Presentation of Bogus History

Wichita Man Tries to Change History of Jesse James

Wichita’s Jesse James Museum Challenges Jesse James History as We Know It

Area Historian Takes a Fresh Look at Jesse James

Techniques of Jesse James Con Artists