Two Books About Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney, Billy the Kid, has had many books written about him. He is portrayed as a black villain, or a misunderstood victim. This is review of two books about him; Billy the Kid: A Short Violent Life by Robert M. Utley and The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis.
Billy the Kid: A Short Violent Life by Robert M. Utley
Early in his book, Robert Utley notes the code of the west as involving ambition, alcohol, firearms and not backing down from anything. Certainly a potentially volatile combination. Bonney was good with guns and didn’t back down, but he didn’t drink. The basis for the Lincoln County War was ambition between the Murphy-Dolan and Tunstall-Murphy organizations which drew Bonney into his mix.
Few facts are known about Bonney’s early life, and Utley examines the options. He picks up Bonney’s life in more detail in New Mexico, his involvement in the Lincoln County War, as a minor outlaw after the war ended, and his capture and death by Pat Garrett.
Utley has documented the book, and it is a engrossing read. It is a nice addition to a western book collection, or as a good biography of Billy the Kid.
Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis
Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis isn’t quite an autobiography of William H. Bonney.
Wallis gives an overview and hits the high spots of Billy’s life. The book’s focus is the West that Bonney lived in.
Wallis covers Lincoln County and the Western mood and relates how that helped William H. Bonney become Billy the Kid.
A complaint about this book could be made that Billy the Kid is on the edges of the story. He covers the War, Bonney’s capture and escape from jail and killing by Sheriff Pat Garrett. That is when he became Billy the Kid.
This book is good at giving an entertaining view of Billy the Kid’s time and place in history. I recommend it on the basis it is a good supplement to books of the Wild West, and gives a slightly different perspective. Both books are worth reading.
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