American Experience – Jesse James

From the brilliant people at PBS comes another installment of the series called "American Experience" which is all about the history of the United States. The series looks at the important people, occurrences and trends that shaped that nation. This episode originally aired in 2005 and is the 'true' story of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. His story, to this day, remains one of the U.S's favourite legends and this episode really debunks all the myths about this man. For instance, most of us believe that Jesse James was a Western outlaw when in fact he never ventured west of the Mississippi in his whole life. Also false is the belief that he was the U.S. version of Robin Hood. Jesse did rob from the rich, but he also robbed from the poor, and he never gave any of his loot to anyone but himself. His whole life is examined from his birth in Missouri, being raised solely by his mother, how the American Civil War shaped his outlook on life, and how violent his existence really was. Jesse James' life story is told through an interesting and engaging blend of old photos, dramatic reenactment, some of James' own letters, newspapers from the day, and interviews with prominent American historians. At the same time that you are learning about James you will also gain some important insight into the history of the South and more specifically of the state of Missouri. You'll definitely come away from this with a totally different perspective (the historically accurate one) on one of America's biggest and most misunderstood legends.

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