Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

Michael Wallis, Author
Michael Wallis, Author . Norton $25.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-393-06068-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-0416-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5416-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-3416-8
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-393-33063-2
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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. (Mar.)

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