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Book Review – In the Shadow by Marley Brant

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Marley Brant – In The Shadow (Incarnat Books 2012) 523 pp. Soft cover, $19.95
Book Review by Nancy B. Samuelson

Marley Brant is well known to most of us in the outlaw-lawman community. She is the author of nine previous books. Among her books are The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood, Jesse James: The Man and the Myth and The Illustrated History of the James-Younger Gang. This book is Marley’s first book of historical fiction. She draws on her extensive research about the James-Younger gang and now tells the story from Bob Younger’s the point of view. The characters in the book are all real people and most of the events described did happen so this is good history.

The horrors of the border war in Missouri and Kansas and the national Civil War that followed are all brought to life very well. The death of Henry Younger, father of the Younger family, and the rape of one of the Younger sisters is all described through the eyes of a very young and innocent Bob Younger. As older brother Cole becomes involved with William C. Quantrill and his band of bushwhackers, the Younger family continue to suffer. The family is forced to move, the mother is forced to burn her home, and the family is forced to move still again.

During Reconstruction things do not improve for the Younger family. The family once had extensive land holdings in Western Missouri, but this is all gone. Bob Younger has a dream of returning to Missouri, becoming a farmer and regaining some of the family’s lost land. But nothing seems to work out for any of the Youngers for very long. The Younger boys try first one thing and another and move about here and there. Cole becomes involved in outlaw activities and the other three brothers, John, Jim, and Bob are eventually drawn into the outlaw life too. Brother John is killed in a gunfight with lawmen.

Bob now attempts to make it on his own and does return to Missouri. He meets a lady named, Maggie, who is living on some of the land once owned by the Youngers. Bob and Maggie establish a romantic relationship and attempt to make a go of it farming. Bob feels he needs more money to make the farm a paying proposition. He is again drawn into the outlaw activities. This time the James-Younger gang attempt to rob the bank at Northfield, Minnesota and all outlaw-lawman buffs know how this raid ended. The three Younger brothers are all sentenced to life in prison.

The scenes between Bob and Maggie are very touching. However, I wanted to know a lot more about Maggie and her previous life that the author told us. There is a considerable amount of material here and there in the book about farming and country life. Some of these comments led me to the conclusion that the author is a city girl. (This reviewer did grow up on a farm in Missouri.)

The description of the Younger’s lives in Stillwater Prison is well done. And the scenes depicting the death of Bob Younger turned on my tear ducts.

There is not much new about the James-Younger gang in this book. But to tell the story through the eyes of Bob Younger is an interesting twist. The book is well worth reading if you have an interest in this group of outlaws and the Younger family.


Press Release for In the Shadow

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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

☞Today in Old-West History — On today’s date 119 years ago, Sunday, October 19, 1902, notorious Old-West outlaw & fiddle player James Hardin “Uncle Jim” Younger (1848-1902) met his earthly demise at the age of 54 when he committed suicide by gunshot whilst on parole at Saint Paul, Minnesota.

☞Requiéscant In Pace, Jim Younger.

☞Jim Younger was one of the central figures of a band of the most desperate outlaws the Old West ever knew — the infamous James-Younger Gang, which was formed by Jim’s brother Cole Younger along with Frank & Jesse James.

☞Jim Younger joined the Confederate Army during the War Between the States (1861-1865) & served with Quantrill’s Raiders. In 1864, he was captured by Union troops & was imprisoned until the end of the War.

☞After the War, Younger worked on various ranches until he joined the James-Younger Gang in 1873. When his brother John was killed at Roscoe, Missouri in 1874, Jim left the gang & went out west where he worked on a ranch in San Luis Obispo, California.

☞In 1876, Jim returned to the gang, & on September 7 he participated in a bank robbery that became known as the Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. During that robbery he was shot & captured. The James brothers escaped, but Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger were shot up by a posse, arrested, & sentenced to long terms in the state penitentiary at Stillwater, Minnesota, where they were afforded celebrity status.

☞Jim Younger’s fiddle was one of the few possessions that he was allowed to have with him in prison, & he played it often. As time passed, Jim noticed that a little bird would appear most every day in the window of his jail cell. It seemed as though the bird came to listen whenever Jim played his fiddle. Jim was lonely & he befriended the bird which he named “Swipsy.” The bird would fly into the prison cell & Jim would always try to have crumbs to feed Swipsy. One day, a fellow prisoner killed the little bird just for spite. Jim then painted a picture of Swipsy on the back of his violin to remember his little feathered friend.

☞In 1898, the prison warden allowed the prisoners to throw a Christmas party at his own home, with Cole Younger portraying Santa Claus & Jim Younger playing his fiddle.

☞Paroled in 1901, Jim became engaged to his long-time lover Alix Mueller; however, because of the terms of his parole he couldn’t marry her.

☞On October 19, 1902, after a failed attempt to sell tombstones & then insurance, Jim Younger locked himself in his room, wrote a suicide note to Alix, picked up his revolver, & blew his brains out.

☞In 2013, Jim Younger’s fiddle, which was played by him at the famous 1898 Christmas party at Stillwater Prison, was sold at a Dallas, Texas auction for over $11,000.

☞The left-hand photograph depicts the image of Swipsy the Bird that Jim Younger painted on the back of his fiddle. The right-hand photograph depicts an undated studio portrait of Jim Younger.
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Tuesday October 5th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

For Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, CA., and all his descendants, PASO ROBLES FOUNDERS’ DAY 2021. See MoreSee Less