Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

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W.W. Norton & Company, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 328 pages
3 Reviews
History has treated Billy the Kid like a homicidal psychopath, a brazen madman responsible for as many as 21 murders. Steeped in legend, shrouded in folklore and outright lies, Billy the Kid has been portrayed for over 125 years as one of the most savage killers in American folklore. Yet for others, particularly the Hispanic people of the Southwest, the Kid was an avenging angel and a sagebrush Robin Hood. For them and many others, the Kid embodied youth, nobility, humanity, romance, and tragedy. He was the symbolic transition between the old and the new, with a blazing sixgun in hand. Now along comes Michael Wallis's sympathetic yet completely authoritative biography, which challenges and debunks many of the myths that have hounded this young man since his death at the age of 21 in New Mexico Territory. By scrupulously retelling Billy the Kid's brief but compelling story in an effort to set the record straight, Wallis -- renowned for his social histories of the West -- has created a new portrait of this outlaw. Countless books have been published about the Lincoln County War, including Billy the Kid's role in that conflict and the aftermath, but few authors have analyzed the Kid's crimes in the larger context of the political and social corruption that had become a way of life in New Mexico Territory. Wallis describes how the outlaw legend was deliberately manufactured and manipulated -- in fact, really the kid only became known by that name in the last year of his life. Furthermore, we learn how the few killings in which the Kid was actually implicated were used to divert attention from much larger societal corruption and crimes committed by a brotherhood of cunning politicians and power brokers. Wallis's Billy the Kid is more than a riveting story; the book is an extraordinary evocation of the reality of the Old West. With fascinating details of 19th century life, Wallis presents the brief, unhappy ballad of a rootless young man, most likely born to an immigrant Irish woman in New York just before the Civil War. Wallis then uses the story of Billy the Kid to explain the history of the violent settlement of the West and the development of frontier life between 1865 and 1881. We learn of the rise of the gun culture, the dangerous criminal world of New Mexico's Lincoln County, and everyday life at remote frontier outposts. We also meet many of the legendary heroes and antiheroes who, like the Kid, have been mythologized over time. - Jacket flap.

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The Endless Ride

User Review  - thuerena - Borders

The hardcover edition is worth the extra money because it has a great cover. Overall the book is written very well. It is great for those who are just learning about Billy the Kid and those who ... Read full review

Billy the Kid: the endless ride

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Historian Wallis (Route 66 ) turns his attention to Billy McCarty (1859-81), a.k.a. Billy the Kid, carefully separating fact from myth-a difficult task, since the myth has all but obscured the facts ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Michael Wallis is the best-selling author of Route 66, Billy the Kid, Pretty Boy, and David Crockett. He hosts the PBS series American Roads. He voiced The Sheriff in the animated Pixar feature Cars. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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