Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West” as Want to Read:
To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  664 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A sheriff . . .

An outlaw . . .

A legendary showdown.

Billy the Kid—a.k.a. Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, and William Bonney—was a horse thief, cattle rustler, charismatic rogue, and cold-blooded killer. A superb shot, the Kid gunned down four men single-handedly and five others with the help of cronies. Two of his victims were Lincoln County, New Mexico, deputies killed durin
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about To Hell on a Fast Horse, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about To Hell on a Fast Horse

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,444)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I have no problem reading a book about a fictional character who is a scum sucking, murdering, slimy piece of crap. But, when it's a real guy who caused real pain for a lot of people, I kind of lose my taste for it pretty quickly. Maybe that's why it took me 21 days to read this relatively short book, though to be fair - the author does not go out of his way to paint Billy the Kid as a hero.

It's just that everybody else did it for him.

Will Byrnes
People were complicated even in the days of the cowboy. Pat Garrett might have been the standup lawman who trailed Billy the Kid and brought him to justice, but, as Gardner takes pains to note, Garrett had issues of his own, managing to waste the good name he earned in his most famous venture in a series of bad business deals, excessive consumption of alcohol, and an affinity for gambling. The book focuses most of its attention on Garret. William Bonney, among his other aliases, was what we migh ...more
I thought I knew this story better, but Gardner demolishes that notion. But he does it in a way that's far from dry-as-dust history. He maintains an understandable dose of romanticism, especially when it comes to The Kid. There's just not that much known about him, and Billy clearly muddied the waters with lies and half-truths. There are a couple of howlers. I groaned when I read the upcoming confrontation between Billy and Pat Garrett had the makings of a "tragedy for the ages." Oh, come on.

Jerry Smith
There has been so much written about Billy the Kid it is interesting to hear an account that links his bio with that of his killer, Pat Garrett.

Billy has taken on legendary, almost heroic status as a romantic outlaw. There seems little doubt that despite his iconic and romantic reputation he was a cold blooded killer, tagged with multiple killings over a relatively short space of time. These killings included lawmen and innocents so he isn't really a charming figure.

Garrett's reputation seems t
Karolinde (Kari)
The book is a fairly interesting look at how Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid's lives overlapped. I would really like to have seen more about the "legendization" of Billy the Kid and the concurrent demonization of Garrett. Gardner brings it up and touches on it slightly, but it doesn't seem to go far enough.

I did find interesting that Garrett was censured by many for not gving Billy the Kid a far fight at his death, which would have been stupid, and yet none of those same critics ever mention the
Joe Chernicoff
Well before 'little green men' appeared in Roswell, NM, and before atomic bomb testing took place at White Sands, NM, Henry McCarty and Pat Garret created their own explosive scenarios in those Western towns.

Henry McCarty/William Antrium/William Bonney, or, as he was became better known by the name of 'Kid/Billy the Kid, is still one of America's most well-recognized bad men - a Western outlaw who began his ride to hell at a very young age, and who was finally dispatched from the scene by a form
Lots of books on Billy the Kid but very few on Pat Garrett. What's really sad is the story of Pat Garrett and how the outlaw is remembered more than the lawman. Pat Garrett was murdered near Las Cruces shortly before New Mexico achieved statehood and his murderer never brought to justice. I found the story of Garrett far more fascinating, as well as the capriciousness of justice in New Mexico even after the Lincoln County War. People of wealth and connection routinely got away with murder even w ...more
Gary Null
The old west comes alive in this dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Since the lives of the outlaw and the lawman were so intertwined, it only seems natural that their stories are told concurrently.

This well-researched and heavily annotated account brings a lot of interesting details to light, such as Billy’s escape by climbing up the inside of a narrow, sooty chimney.

It’s not the typical romanticized version of good versus evil. Both characters have strengths and flaws, the distin
Compré este libro porque la crítica de Hagakure en Hislibris me entusiasmó. También la menciono aquí porque es tan completa que me va a evitar dar muchos datos con el fin de centrarme en mis sensaciones. Al infierno en un caballo veloz es una biografía compartida de Billy el Niño, el forajido más popular del Viejo Oeste, y de su perseguidor y asesino, Pat Garrett. El modo que tenemos de percibir la historia muchas veces no tiene nada que ver con la ciencia de los hechos, y los adjetivos que he u ...more
Christopher Lonero
I would have probably given this 3.5 stars if there was a way how. This is my second Billy the Kid book. The first being "Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride" by M. Wallis. "To Hell on a Fast Horse" differs to Wallis' book in that THFH concentrates on both Billy and Pat Garrett's lives. The book actually goes further into Garrett's life than Billy's it seems which offers an interesting overview of the era. The stories of Billy were very similar to the first book. However, I do think the account on h ...more
Bob Schmitz
Intensely researched this is an interesting story about Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett the sheriff who hunted down and killed him as well as about the times in New Mexico in the 1870's to 1900.

Quotes I loved from the book:

"I don't think history can possibly be true" Orson Welles

"God created man and Sam Colt made them equal" Western Adage

"Fame is a food that dead men eat." Henry Austin

Billy the Kid was a thief,good with a gun and could ride a horse like a Comanche. He was very likable fellow who
C Baker
Until I read this book I had only read mythological accounts of Billy the Kid, which usually contain nothing of Pat Garrett’s life. Books and movies have mythologized Bill they Kid as a Robin Hood type, happy go lucky outlaw and Pat Garrett is demonized as a cowardly man who shot him down in the dark.

This book dispels those myths and gives a fuller account of the lives of both these men in a well written and documented dual biography.

The book walks through the early life of both men, with Willi
This is a rather straight ahead account of the intertwining legacy of two of the American frontier’s most legendary figures, made somewhat special by the plethora of original research the author brings to the table. The Acknowledgements and Notes sections together make up at least 1/3 of the book, to give one an idea of the sheer amount of work that went into it.

Because Gardner isn’t really interested in romanticizing these figures, we end up getting a more complete picture of William Henry McC
Chris Young
I finish this book with a renewed appreciation of why people became outlaws in the old west. While pirates had a multitude of exotic locales to live their lives in the people of the old west were pretty much stuck with working cattle, farming, working in stores, mining, (stop me when I get to one that would make you go woohoo) there really is no need. If any of this does it would be because you thought you would be an owner of one of these enterprises. Most people weren't, most then were "pickin ...more
Clark Hays
Heroes, outlaws and the triumph of personal brand

This was a great book about a legendary figure who looms large in the American psyche — Billy the Kid. After meeting his maker at the hands of Pat Garrett, the reputation of the dashing young outlaw took on a larger than death shine elevating him to somewhere just above Bonnie and Clyde and just below Robin Hood. According the author, who seemed to draw mostly from the unvarnished historical record, Billy the Kid was a thief, cold-blooded killer,
What is wrong with the following sentence in a factual account of events?

"Bob and Jack faced off, each pointing a gun at each other. Bob realized that Jack had the drop on him, a split second before Bob was shot by Jack."

This is not a quote from the book, but something like it happens time and time again. So does:

"Bill and Ted were alone on the plain. Bill pulled a gun, which Ted wasn't expecting. Luckily, Ted was the fastest gun in the world, ever, and shot bill four hundred and twenty seven ti
Mark Sequeira
Fun, fast read that details both Billy (the Kid) and what happened to Pat Garrett after he killed him. If you've read a billy book you'll like this one. If you haven't, this is a good start. Recommended. Fair.
Kendall Shaw
AMAZING. It's amazing. I could count on one hand the non-fiction books I've read cover-to-cover, and this one blows them all out of the water. I was already interested in the history and wanted to know more about Billy and the Lincoln County War, but I think that even if I hadn't come in with prior interest, I still would've been hooked immediately. This book read like a novel, and I think it's pretty amazing that it did, especially considering how mysterious some of the events that are covered ...more
A fun, straight forward read about Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett and how forever changed Garrett's life was after bringing Billy the Kid down.
I heard plenty of Marty Robbins and Western music as a kid since it was the only music my dad really liked, and I remember listening to the sad story of "Billy the Kid," crouched next to the big old stereo cabinet while the records played. For some reason outlaws such as Billy the Kid and Jesse James (along with The Red Baron) loomed large in my childhood mind - I'm still not quite sure why.

Mark Lee Gardiner tells the story of Billy the Kid (a.k.a. Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, and William Bonne
Paul Pessolano
We have all heard, read, and seen movies that tell the lives of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. I venture to say that a great majority of the information was either false or made up. Mark Lee Gardner lies to rest all the lies, fabrications, and glorification of these two men.

History lovers will love the fact that Gardner has done a magnificent job researching the book, and this brought out in the "Notes" and "Resources" section of the book. He also succeeds in making the story not only readable,
While the book does an excellent job of sifting fact out of all the fiction surrounding these western icons' lives, it is sometimes a dry and over-detailed history. The good news is that the author is only proving his homework, and overall the book holds your attention.

If, like me, most of what you know about Billy the Kid comes from watching Young Guns several times, then you can get more fact from this and ditch the movie misinformation while still noting that Young Guns did give some rough pl
Jeffery Moulton
I knew very little about Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett going into this book. Of course I'd heard their names before, who hasn't? And I knew that Billy the Kid was a famous outlaw of the American West. But I knew nothing else.

The first half of the book details the lives of the Kid and Garrett, the Kid's eventual killer, in great detail. It does a good job of presenting both as human beings with flaws and noble aspirations alike. Much of the romatic notions of western outlaws and the wild-wild-wes
This book provided a good deal of history on both Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. It's probably not the most in depth history on each as there is only 257 pages thru the Epilogue. But it appears well researched and footnoted.

It provides a brief history of both men's childhoods (what is known of Billy's anyways) as well as Pat Garrett's life after the Kid. The Kid's killing shows up on around page 175 with rest of the book devoted to Garrett's life afterwards.

For those that only have their Billy t
Don S.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liza Gilbert
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected I would. Gardner did a good job researching the events, and each individual's characteristics, mannerisms, and physical attributes came across clearly. However, I felt like I was reading the book for the strange and true history, and not because of the writing.

In parts the writing was confusing, almost as if Gardner forgot that the public doesn't know the story as well as he does. Names and places blur by, and while Gardner explains them, there isn'
Themes: crime and justice, a Western, law and order, outlaw society
Setting: New Mexico, mostly, also Texas and Arizona

This is sort of a dual biography of Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney, Henry Antrim, and Kid Antrim, and Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who swore to bring the Kid in. And he did, but it wasn't quite as easy as it sounded. The Kid was a legend for getting himself out of tight spots. But Garrett was determined.

This book explores (sometimes at a little too much length) the c
This is a dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. The first 100 pages is the interwoven story of both, the second 100 is solely Pat Garrett and the last is an excerpt of another book. Billy goes by too many names and switches posses too many times. The equation renders me incapable of tracking anyone because you get a very superficial synopsis and a picture, then move on. Ironically they both had issues with the law, shared family members and friends, one just happen to volunteer catchi ...more
Tom Gase
A pretty good book on the chase of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett by Mark Lee Gardner. I had read some chase books of notorious killers lately (Zodiac and Manhunt) so I thought this might be the same type of enjoyable read. A solid researched book, but the last 80 pages or so kind of dragged since Billy the Kid had already been killed by the time in the book. I found Pat Garrett's life to be on the sad side. He hunted down one of the most dangerous killers of all time, however, nobody brings him u ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 48 49 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride
  • Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War
  • The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral--And How It Changed The American West
  • American Passage: The History of Ellis Island
  • Fannie's Last Supper: Re-creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer's 1896 Cookbook
  • The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story
  • The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo--and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation
  • Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time-- the Building of the Panama Canal
  • The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century
  • Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend
  • The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
  • The Great Depression: America 1929-1941
  • American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
  • Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend
  • Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist
  • The Road to Disunion: Volume II: Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861
  • Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America
  • Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
Mark Lee Gardner grew up in the small town of Breckenridge, Missouri (pop. 500), in the heart of historic Jesse James country. He has written extensively about the American West, on subjects such as the Santa Fe Trail, George Armstrong Custer, Bent's Old Fort, Geronimo, Billy the Kid, and the James-Younger gang. His most recent book, Shot All To Hell, received the Western Writers of America 2014 S ...more
More about Mark Lee Gardner...

Share This Book