Related Subjects: Author Index
Book reviews for "Brant,_Marley" sorted by average review score:

Outlaws: The Illustrated History of the James-Younger Gang
Published in Hardcover by Elliott & Clark Pub (July, 1997)
Author: Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $20.97
List price: $29.95 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $20.82
Collectible price: $26.47
Buy one from zShops for: $19.71
Average review score:

A biography of of the West's most notorious outlaw gang
The lives of Jesse James and Cole Younger and their brothers are shrouded in myths created by Nineteenth Century journalists who celebrated their deeds and by themselves through the lies they told to cover their tracks and to excuse their crimes. Brant's book attempts to separate reality from legend, covering the James and Younger brothers from birth to death. Her book is not without sympathy for her subjects, but it is by no means an apologia for their manifold sins. Although Brant rightfully sees the origin of their criminal activities in Civil War guerilla warfare which carried over into the atmosphere of bitter reprisals following the war, she also chronicles their slide into simple greed and thrill-seeking. This volume is generous in its presentation of photographs of the outlaw gang, their associates, enemies, and victims, and of the places where they operated.

Excitement, adventure and human drama
Marley Brant is an excellent author, if you want to know the truth about Jesse James, his brother Frank, and their partners in crime you must read this fabulous biography. Brant sticks to this colorful history of the Outlaws in an enormously entertaining writing style. The James and Younger boys are no longer just footmates in some dusty history books but still live in the minds. The real life adventures of these men were more amazing than the fictional accounts that abounded even during their lifetimes. Their exploits in life made them immortal in death ! Marley Brant perseveres in trying to reconcile all the accrued information and misinformation with the historical facts of the James-Younger saga. This book will make you want to travel to Missouri to visit the area as it was during the civil war until 1916. A must !

Jesse James: The Man and the Myth
Published in Paperback by Berkley Pub Group (January, 1998)
Author: Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $10.50
List price: $15.00 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $5.74
Collectible price: $8.55
Buy one from zShops for: $9.75
Average review score:

Erring on the side of legend
Marley Brant is perhaps better known for her book on the Younger brother, partners in crime with Jesse James and his brother Frank. There have been literally dozens of books on the story, and one might legitimately ask, why another one? I opened the book to pages 58-59 and immediately found the apocryphal story of the alleged attack on the farm outside Kearney, Mo. where Jesse was born, which supposedly occurred in February 1867, presented as fact. I checked the source, note #4, Chapt. 6, on page 274, and found it to be I, JESSE JAMES, a work of historical fiction by Jesses great-grandson. In his book, JESSE JAMES WAS HIS NAME, by William Settle, one of the few reliable accounts, this yarn is debunked, in note 34, page 210 by Robert James, Frank James' son. It appeared in the mythmaking writings of John Newman Edwards, the father of the James myth, in the 1870's. I would have given this book a four star rating, but for things like this. The book in in fact rather dated, in light of more recent scholarship. The fact that it came out somewhat after
the 1996 DNA testing on the remains of Jesse James and spate of cable documentaries about same, and was only published in paperback, indicates that it was probably intended to cash in on the backwash of interest generated by the media. Brant went on to write a book about Southern rock music.

Fact or Fiction?
I did not check up on the source of references for this book, but I really enjoyed the reading! It was the most interesting factual book I have read in a long time. I thought the Author was very clear on the instances that were tall tales and what not. So over all, if your interested in a spicey history such as Jesse James, I highly recommend this book.

Excellent Research and Lively Reading
This is an extraordinary book!
As a Civil War buff in years past, I was particularly drawn to historical biographies. In recent years, I have developed a keen interest in the Post Civil War and Outlaw periods. I've visited many historical sites, museums and the like. I've heard lectures and had conversations with on-site historians, academic pros and other enthusiasts. When the subject was JESSE JAMES, virtually all of them spoke highly of this book and considered it a "must read." That's what led me to buy the book. I am amazed at the depth of the research, much of it painstakingly conducted first hand. It is unusual to see such a strong mix of documentation -- archived legal papers, state records, historical first hand accounts, family accounts and so on -- gathered in such a logical, readable format. Events are well chronicled and presented in an engaging manner. Conclusions are both logical and thought provoking. To use a cliché (as I am definitely not a writer/biographer!) I found myself reluctant to put it down. Rarely have I experienced such pleasure in getting to know an important historical figure, their times and the forces that would drive their destiny. I can personally recommend "Jesse James" to anyone seeking scholarly knowledge of the man and his times. Jesse's remarkable personal story truly comes alive in this engaging, artfully presented and very well written book. I now look forward to reading more of Ms. Brant's books -- for knowledge AND pleasure!

The Story of Cole Younger by Himself: Being an Autobiography of the Missouri Guerrilla Captain and Outlaw, His Capture and Prison Life, and the Only Authentic Account of the Northfield
Published in Paperback by Minnesota Historical Society (October, 2000)
Authors: Cole Younger and Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $10.36
List price: $12.95 (that's 20% off!)
Used price: $9.50
Buy one from zShops for: $9.50
Average review score:

Fascinating and Perplexing
Cole Younger's autobiography doesn't answer all the questions. It creates more. For one thing, Cole Younger claims that the Northfield robbery, that landed him in prison for 25 years, was his first and _only_ robbery. This makes him either one of the world's most misunderstood innocents, or one of its most blatent liars.

Most authors and historians come down on the 'liar' side of the argument and, bearing in mind Younger was an admitted and convicted criminal, that's not unreasonable. However, I'm inclined to think there's more truth in his tale than is generally acknowledged. Most people just don't lie outright in autobiographies--they hedge and recolor and leave things out to make themselves look better. Reading Cole Younger's book, you can see him doing all these things, as well as avoiding outright statements of his own in favor of quoting other people who had favorable things to say about him, or quoting old statements of innocence he had made. Take the book for what it's worth and make your own judgements.

As to the writing itself... Cole Younger is no writer. The book is uneven and choppy, but parts are quite good. He has some moments of actually inspired prose. He includes the text of a lecture he gave in his later days at the end and it's quite good. Some of his war tales are well-told, but a bit scanty on details. He assumes you know the general stories and is often focusing on quelling lies, myths, and fabrications that had grown up around his story. In many of these cases he's probably being quite honest.

Though dubious history, this book is a valuable and intriguing look at the person and personality behind the historical figure.

History Lesson
This book was a great history lesson for me. Not only did it tell a great story, it filled me in with alot of unknown information about my Great Great Great Great Great Uncle, Cole Younger. I would like to say that Jesse James and the Younger Brothers had no relation to eachother. THEY WERE NOT COUSINS. THEY DID NOT EVEN ROB BANKS TOGTHER. HISTORY BOOKS HAVE BLURRED THE TRUTH, AND I WOULD LIKE TO CLEAR THAT UP. please read this book, it is a great one.

The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood: A Biography
Published in Hardcover by Madison Books (September, 1992)
Author: Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $22.95
Used price: $16.68
Average review score:

Interesting but how factual?
The book was fun to read; it gave the detail and the background that I like because it sets the historical stage nicely for the well-publicized behavior of the Younger and James brothers. And it's not first out-West book I've read which shows the thin line between heroic gunmen like Wyatt Earp and bad guys. So, that the Youngers and Jameses were tipped onto the side of outlawry after the bitter Civil War period is believable.
The only trouble I had with the book was that it was a bit sloppily written -- and edited -- which I noted from the number of typographical errors and misspellings. The author referred to Charleton College (not Carleton College), correcting it in the second reference, and Hemline, instead of Hamline University. It made me wonder how many other mistakes there were.
I also wondered why no major endorsements like from the book clubs of the Washington Post or New York Times or Los Angeles Times were included in the introduction. I suspect they weren't favorable, if they were done at all. I find little value in an endorsement from a TV cowboy.
But I loved reading about the Youngers and that period. And the writing was fairly well done.

The best book to date, if that's saying anything.
This book is perhaps the best book about the Youngers to date, in a field that's not crowded with great works. This is her first book and she falls into the trap facing all biographers - objectivity. The book certainly seems to suffer from a pro-Confederate bias in the tone of her work, much as some books suffer from a pro-Northern bias. This book also relies on on the so-called "Maggie" letters for some of its most interesting revelations. Maggie is the alleged mistress of Bob Younger, but we are told in the note on the sources [page 340] that the actual source of these letters can't be revealed as they are in a private collection and can't be examined. Ditto with a number of alleged letters concerning Jim Younger. I would have given this book higher marks but for this. Some of the information may, or may not, be reliable, and this isn't made fully clear in the main text. If one day it becomes possible to examine and confirm the authenticity of these, the book certainly deserves a revised edition. Unless another book appears on the horzon, I'd say this will be the standard biography of the Youngers for some years to come.

Wonderful book
This is an extremely engaging account of the less famous half of the James-Younger gang. It is beautifully written and well researched. The author also provides a vivid glimpse into the suffering of the Southern civilian during the Civil War, which is an aspect of this era that seems to be under-reported by most authors dealing with this topic. Brant is aggressive in her writing and fills in the occasional gaps in the Younger's history with plausable theories. Her account of the Northfield raid and the eventual capture of the Youngers is by far the most detailed and informative version of this episode that I have read. This book is written intelligently yet it is never dry and dull. An interesting and exciting read. A real page turner!

Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock
Published in Paperback by Billboard Books (August, 1999)
Author: Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $18.95
Used price: $3.95
Buy one from zShops for: $3.95
Average review score:

Very Effective
Marley Brant's Southern Rockers is a pleasant easy to read bio of some of the great and lesser known bands hailing down below the Mason/Dixon Line. Brant really takes you inside the souls of many of these great recording artists. Much of the information on the Allman Brothers is similar to that of Midnight Riders. However, its refreshing to reading the inside scoop on Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels Band, and so many fo the other Southern Rockers. One can certainly understand the plusses and minuses of being a musician and the common bonds these recording acts faced. The passages on Ronnie Van Zandt and Lynyrd Skynyrd are extremely captivating. Ronnie certainly had a strong will. The descriptions on the playing styles of Toy and Tommy Caldwell are very informative especially to budding musicians.

A few mistakes here and there but the whole package is a good one. Anyone appreciating the great music of this region should give this one a read. You will not be dissappointed.

The Best-Ever Book on the MUSIC known as Southern Rock!
Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down, it's that simple... and it's that great! The author, Marley Brant, has interviewed a veritable Who's Who of Southern Rock and asked all the right questions. Their personal recollections and musical opinions are interwoven with a finely tuned chronological flow. The triumphs and pitfalls, the real people and their human experiences are all there for the reader, both fan and serious music student. While I am a fan of all music, especially Southern Rock, without a doubt this is the most important and insightful music book I have read to date!!

Interesting and informative
I would appreciate the opportunity to thank Marley Brant for allowing me to be a part of her book, Southern Rockers. When she first approached me I was hesitant. In the past I had believed some honestly wanted my input, I was wrong. After stalling for some time, I did contact Marley and I have never regretted it. The book brought back some great memories. Toy made so many friends over the years. Both musicians and fans who were important to him, and who now continue to stay in touch with me. These people are a source of comfort and I thank God for their friendship. Whether a fan of Marshall Tucker Band or not, there is something for everyone who has enjoyed and continue to enjoy all of these wonderful bands. To all of those who expressed their love for Toy in the book, thank you. He truly returned those feelings. Sincerely, Abbie Caldwell(widow of Toy Caldwell)

Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story
Published in Paperback by Watson-Guptill Pubns (January, 2002)
Author: Marley Brant
Amazon base price: $13.97
List price: $19.95 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $2.97
Buy one from zShops for: $6.25
Average review score:

Freebirds lets the reader decide
Brant lets the reader decide in this biography of Lynyrd Skynyrd. As you would expect with the money and ego involved, the many characters involved with Skynyrd over the last 25 years have a different perspective on events. They are not hesitant to give their versions. The author has not taken sides, nor tried to interpret, the sometimes destructive relationships that were defined by casual sex, drug addiction, alcoholism, and money. Instead she lets the band tell the story. The reader is left to his own conclusions. In my opinion, these are talented, but not very nice people. This is a fan's book, and there is much to enjoy about the band's story. The author has obviously talked to many people, and the story is very interesting. The message I get from the book is that Rock and Roll, for all it's glamour, is a tough business, for tough people. Skynyrd has suceeded while most have failed. These guys have a lot to offer. Read this book, and you will understand them much better.

Skynyrd Rules
I waited a long time for a book about Skynyrd and this one is good. Tells me a lot about what I wanted to know behind the scenes and the quotes from past and present band members are really interesting. Don't know why there are a couple of one star reviews here. Especially ones that don't really criticize the book but criticize the things being said by the people being interviewed. Hearing how people really feel make the book that much more interesting and these guys don't hold anything back. Can't believe these one-starrers say the book is boring or badly written. Stories like Ronnie Van Zant putting a gun to the head of the drummer during rehearsal and Artimus Pyle turning Linda Blair's head around are funny as hell. The one about Pyle saving Paul McCartney's life is priceless. Makes me think the one-starrers had another agenda or maybe didn't read the book (or at least the same one I did!) This book tells you what you want to know about Skynyrd right up to 2002, and tells it mostly through the people who lived it. The author provides a lot of background material too. It's a good book.

Good Book - Don't Miss It
LYNYRD SKYNYRD is an enjoyable, well written book. It tracks the band from its scrappy beginnings to international recognition, honky tonks to stadiums.

I liked quite a few things about this book. Author Brant conducted many personal interviews and the resulting first person accounts made for very interesting, often amusing and occasionally poignant reading. There were also wonderful photographs, many I had never seen and I am a longtime fan. The story was told chronologically and that made for easy reading, as the book has quite a cast of characters.

I would recommend this book to a friend without hesitation.

Related Subjects: Author Index

Reviews are from readers at To add a review, follow the Amazon buy link above.