"This might be the best Billy the Kid book to date." —Fritz Thompson, Albuquerque Journal
In this revisionist biography, award-winning historian Michael Wallis re-creates the rich anecdotal saga of Billy the Kid (1859–1881), a young man who became a legend in his time and remains an enigma to this day. In an extraordinary evocation of the legendary Old West, Wallis demonstrates why the Kid has remained one of our most popular folk heroes. Filled with dozens of rare images and period photographs, Billy the Kid separates myth from reality and presents an unforgettable portrait of this brief and violent life.
The boy who would become Billy the Kid (1859 1881) was born Henry McCarty, perhaps in the Irish immigrant wards of New York City. Not much is known about his parents, and it's difficult to trace his whereabouts until his family turned up in Silver City, Colo., in the early 1870s. Both the facts and the legend pick up in 1877, when Henry already known to some under the alias Kid shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis's reconstruction of the Kid's exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis (Route 66) shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of "desperate men" who knew how to handle a gun. At the same time, a new kind of sensationalist journalism was being created, and reporters were more than happy to contribute to the creation of a myth. Wallis, the host of PBS's new American Roads, writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase ("the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves"). Over the decades, countless books have been written about the infamous outlaw, and this is surely one of the best. 60 illus.
Couldn't put it down.
This book was great. I was tired of most books romanticizing the old west. This book just tries to stick to the facts.
The real story.
This book was perfect. It is an honest look into the world around Billy the Kid as much as it is his life. None of the tall tales or legends, but it will explain how those came about. It will open your eyes to the Lincoln County Cattle War and all the players involved. The detailed histories of people, towns, and even objects put you in the story like you are there. I only wish that Spielburg or Hanks would take this on as there next HBO series! What an adventure this book was.