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Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  419 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Award-winning historian Michael Wallis has spent several years re-creating the rich, anecdotal saga of Billy the Kid (1859–1881), a deeply mythologized young man who became a legend in his own time and yet remains an enigma to this day. With the Gilded Age in full swing and the Industrial Revolution reshaping the American landscape, “the Kid,” who was gunned down by Sherif ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2007)
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When Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid on July 14th 1881 in New Mexico Territory a legend was born.

From the corrupt streets of New York to the corrupt towns of the Wild West, Billy the Kid's 21 short years are brought vividly to life by this fascinating biography.

So few actual facts are known about him that historians do not even agree about his birthplace or even his real name. Michael Wallis has painstakingly sifted through all the exaggerated stories and outright lies that have surrou
Aug 05, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
This book does not describe the legend of Billy the Kid. Instead it creates a portrait of Billy by revealing the details of his life: what the people who knew Billy said about him, what were his known personal tastes, what was his mother like, what was his step father like, where did he live, what was the nature of the places he lived. As I read this book an authentic portrait of Billy the Kid began to emerge in my mind, painted by each fact revealed, not a portrait build on imaginative fiction, ...more
Terry Bonner
Aug 06, 2012 Terry Bonner rated it really liked it
This thoroughly, even painstakingly, researched biography was very frustrating. On the one hand, Wallis provided incisive, comprehensive context, both historical and cultural, for the phenomenon of Billy the Kid. In this regard, the book was exceptional. On the other hand, the almost total lack of reliable records and contemporaneous accounts of William Bonney, aka Henry Atrim, made this biography almost worthless in offering insights into the character or motives of this folk hero. The book exp ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
This was definitely interesting and well done. It was more scholarly in tone than I expected, but that isn't a bad thing. I thought he did a good job of not painting him as a villain or a hero, just telling his life story, and leaving it to you to make up your mind about him.

I was listening to this, rather than reading it, and I was sometimes a bit distracted during the historical background sections, so I ended up not quite following exactly what he was doing. Anyway, that sentence wasn't a ve
Jun 05, 2008 Nate rated it did not like it
The author of this book is the voice of "Sheriff" from the movie Cars (and has some of the best lines in the movie), and apparently he has also written a very good book on the history of Route 66. He obviously loves and knows the West, and tries hard to write a good book here, but unfortunately there is just far too little real information about this elusive figure and far too much myth. He spends most of the book deconstructing the myths, but can't replace them with many hards facts because the ...more
Kevin Lucia
Nov 28, 2011 Kevin Lucia rated it it was amazing
Absolutely excellent. Very readable, and this paints the best picture of the Kid so far. Also nails done some really nice historical points for my project...
Laura Jean ♥Miller...♥ ~
Feb 17, 2016 Laura Jean ♥Miller...♥ ~ rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating, interesting. I have always loved western history.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Henry McCarty/Billy Antrim/William Bonney/Billy the Kid is biographized here, in an OK attempt to weed out the myth surrounding this very young man's very violent life.

Wallis spends much time talking about what isn't likely to be true and bemoaning the lack of verifiable information about the life and actions of his subject, and not enough time talking about those verifiable facts.

Wallis does place The Kid in the context of his place (a fluent Spanish-speaker who loved and was well loved by the
Paul Pessolano
Jan 03, 2015 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
“Billy the Kid” by Michael Wallis, published by W. W. Norton & Company.

Category – History/ Old West Publication Date – March 10, 2008

The exploits of Billy the Kid have been told over the years. The vast majority of these stories paint Billy as a ruthless psychopathic killer. He has been labeled with killing over twenty people, but is this the true Billy the Kid.

Michael Wallis in his book puts together a much different story of Billy the Kid. Maybe the Kid was a much maligned individual and d
Sep 21, 2008 Melea rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Mr. Wallis has written a well-researched book. Despite the fact that tere are tons of endnotes (and I mean tons -- at least 2 superscripts in most paragraphs), the superscripts do not interrupt the flow of the narrative.
Billy the Kid is shown as a human being with all the flaws that humans have. He also is shown to have loyalty, love, attractiveness. He is usually portrayed either as a hero or a villain. This portrayal shows that he may have been a bit of both, and traces those characteristics.
Aug 04, 2014 CB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author gets in the way at times. A bit too much "personality." And his otherwise well researched book appears to have at least one outstanding gap. No detail re an essential historical point which, although somewhat incidental in biographical terms, leads to a critical turning point in the life of The Kid: was there any validity to the Dolan & Murphy legal suit that McSween swindled them? This is the crux of the matter leading to the murder of Tunstall, Billy's employer and mentor, the subse ...more
Mar 11, 2012 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Very informative. I learned so much about Henry McLarty, alias "Billy the Kid".....much of which astonished me.
Sep 24, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lot of fun. Much isn't known about the guy, but it's amazing how much is, and what an interesting character he was.
Aug 01, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
This is my second book by this author. I also read his biography on Pretty Boy Floyd. His writing style is much more readable - even entertaining - than most writers of history that I have encountered. That makes this book a good read.

Because there is little reliable information available on Billy the Kid, much of the book is actually not about the Kid himself as much as it is a history of the West of the 1870s and 1880s. In that regard, it is a very interesting and enlightening history. Another
Apr 30, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
Billy the Kid by Michael Wallis does an excellent job of sorting the myth from the man and begins to paint a clear picture of the infamous Billy the Kid. So much of the history of the west is plagued by a lack of sources and misinformation from dime novels and eastern newspapers that until the last 10 years there has not been a serious effort to sort out the facts and the fiction. In fact unless the US military was involved and the sources were better preserved an effort was barely made at all. ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Cameron rated it did not like it
How do you write a biography on a person who famously has very little details known about them? Someone who lived a very short time in a land where frequent written communication was essentially null? Therein lies the fascination behind those who try to write about the life of Billy the Kid. So much of his life is steeped in legend and apocryphal tales that are not verifiable. And sometimes, when trying to discover the truth behind the myth, there just isn't that much there. Definitely not enoug ...more
Dec 22, 2011 Barney rated it really liked it
Whenever I see "Billy the Kid" I think of two things:

1. Twinkie the Kid
2. Emilio Estevez.

The author's intent in this book is to separate the myth of The Kid from the reality, and Mr. Wallis succeeds admirably in dispelling many notions about Bonney and his time and the books makes an excellent read. I am not going to be one of those people that say "Wow! This read like a novel!" Soooooo, what novel? "The Pelican Brief" or "Moby Dick"? Wallis is an excellent writer and does not skimp on the rese
Jul 13, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, us-history
I like a book with focus, and this book truly has focus. The author gives enough western history so that you can understand the circumstances of the story and doesn't take the reader down side angles (and there are plenty of possibilities for this.) The writer separates fact from fiction explaining the conflicting information and crediting the reliability of the sources.

Billy is an exceptional yet troubled teen. Today we'd call him a youth at risk. He was born into difficult times and taken into
Nov 04, 2013 Glenda rated it liked it
Despite growing up in New Mexico and having visited Billy the Kid's grave once at Ft. Sumner, I really didn't have any idea what he actually had done to give him such notoriety. So... I picked this book up hoping to change that only to find that Billy is really more legend/myth than factual outlaw/hero.

Not that Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, William Bonney, or Billy the Kid (among his many aliases) didn't deserve some history but, in fact, it seems based on this book that they can attribute 4 dea
Mar 23, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
I've always been interested in the Old West: cowboys, Native Americans, outlaws, pioneers, the frontier, buffalo. Even though most of it is myth and legend instead of fact, it's still fascinating. Billy the Kid is a prime example. The legend was built up around this kid, but the truth of his life is very different, and it's interesting reading this book to find out just how much less romantic and dashing and murderous his actual life was amd how little is actually known about him. Historians can ...more
May 12, 2014 Donna rated it liked it
I was not aware of the many stories or myths about Billy the Kid. I did appreciate the mention of New Mexico's governor (don't remember which one, maybe all of them) do what they can to keep all stories alive for the sake of tourism.

Not having read anything else on The Kid, Wallis seems fair not saying whether Billy was bad or good. It's hard to tell what happened...To think he was gunned down at 21...or was he?
Dec 14, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
Much has been written about William Atrium, and Michael Wallis adds more. The insight in this book is how Billy the Kid became the symbol of the fight between rich and poor, Anglo and Hispanic and hero versus villain. This book, while not necessarily expanding the canon, goes place the kid in context of the times and the powerful players who eventually beat him.
Jun 04, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very Thorough. Lots of information I had never heard before. Cleared up nearly every question i had about Henry(Billy) and his history. It must have taken a long time to compile all this information in this book from so many sources. A quarter of the content in the book is Bibliography. There is a lot that can be debated but I believe the information is as good as it will ever get. My love for all things Billy The Kid started with the Young Guns movies and will continue on after reading this boo ...more
Some have complained about the lack of facts when it comes to this book. There simply aren't a lot of hard facts about Billy - but there are a lot of outright lies. The book addresses everything that it is capable of addressing, and puts to rest some of the worse rumors.

What I liked about this book was the thorough way it dealt with the time period in question. By the end I felt that I knew a fair deal about life in the 1860s and how that sort of environment bred outlaws such as Billy. The Wild
I am a big fan of American West history.... but this book was not what I expected. Apparently there just isn't enough known about Billy the Kid to really write an accurate account of his life. This book spends a lot of time on the history of Arizona/ New Mexico area and general history of the era. It does cover Billy the Kid well... but like I said... few facts are known about him... so the book has a lot of filler. If you are looking for a good book on Billy the Kid, I don't know if there is on ...more
May 28, 2012 Amber rated it it was amazing
The extent of my knowledge of Billy the Kid was Young Guns and its sequel. The legend has fascinated me since I had to view the films for a high school project, and The Endless Ride digs behind the legend to tell the story of the boy who became forever known as the Kid. I found I had a lot of sympathy for Billy, who seemed very much a product of his times and the manipulations of authority figures around him. And even though the book ended with the Kid's premature death at the hand of Pat Garret ...more
Nov 06, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Author gives you the little known facts of a personality inflated by myths and legends and allows you to make your own decision as to the character of the man. Personally, I feel Henry McCarty got a bum deal in life, but so many folks in that day and age did. He is remembered to this day and that says something.
Mar 30, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, western
Historically, Billy the Kid has been portrayed as either a wild west Robin Hood or a sadistic, demonic, cold-blooded killer. Mr. Wallis' research and biography of Billy the Kid aims to portray him for the young man he really was. Billy the Kid was a product of his circumstances and was really neither of the traditional portrayals. The book is well researched and written. It is engaging and informative. Though the author has a penchant for repeatedly hinting at the outcome in annoying and unneces ...more
Jennifer Ferber
Jun 22, 2015 Jennifer Ferber rated it really liked it
Very interesting account about who he may have been. If you have any interest in the wild west, this is a good book.
Sep 29, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Michael Wallis is one of the great storytellers of our time. His words evoke the era when the west was still wild. You can hear the howl of the western wind as it blows across the mesas and rattles in the sage bush. Wallis, in his compassionate and gentle way, helps the reader understand the profound loneliness of a boy caught up in circumstances which led to his shedding the blood of others in what amounted to a war to define what the western lands would become. This story will lead anyone inte ...more
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Michael Wallis is the bestselling 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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