Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life

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University of Nebraska Press, 1989 - Biography & Autobiography - 302 pages
Whatever his name or alias at the moment—Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, Kid Antrim, Billy Bonney—people always called him the Kid. Not until his final month did anyone call him Billy the Kid. Newspapers pictured him as a king of outlaws; and his highly publicized capture, trial, escape, and end fixed his image in the public mind for all time. He was only twenty-one years old when a bullet from Sheriff Pat Garett’s six-shooter killed him on July 14, 1881. Within a year Billy the Kid became the subject of five dime-novel “biographies” as well as Garett’s ghost-written account, and that was just the beginning.   Robert M. Utley does what countless books, movies, television shows, musical compositions, and paintings have failed to do: he successfully strips off the veneer of legendry to expose the reality of Billy the Kid. Using previously untapped sources, he presents an engrossing story—the most complete and accurate ever—of a youthful hoodlum and sometime killer who found his calling in New Mexico’s bloody power struggle known as the Lincoln County War. In unmasking the legend Utley also tells us much about our heritage of frontier vigilantism and violence.

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User Review  - untraveller - LibraryThing

Nice book with lots of extraneous names. Tis hard to keep track of everyone. I like Cunningham's version of Billy better....tis story length. Billy really didn't have much going for him, so other than pure romantic fascination, I'm not sure about all the hoopla.... Read full review

Billy the Kid: a short and violent life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Most Americans are familiar with the legend of the outlaw William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Utley, a noted historian of the Old West, has written a scholarly biography of the Kid ... Read full review



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About the author (1989)

One of the preeminent western historians writing today, Robert M. Utley is the author of High Noon in Lincoln: Violence on the Western Frontier, Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier and The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull, as well as Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848–1865 (1984) and Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866–1891 (1981) published by the University of Nebraska Press.

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