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Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life
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Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Whatever his name or alias at the moment—Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, Kid Antrim, Billy Bonney—people always called him the Kid. Not until his final month did anyone call him Billy the Kid. Newspapers pictured him as a king of outlaws; and his highly publicized capture, trial, escape, and end fixed his image in the public mind for all time. He was only twenty-one years old...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Bison Books (first published 1989)
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I'm not sure if this is the same book I read or not, but I **THINK** this is the correct title. Since I picked it up in the library over fifteen years ago I just can't be sure. The cover was different-- It had the same photo as Odaantje's new poetry book about Billy the Kid. Whatever. . the book read like a novel, and it was so very interesting because no one truly knows for sure if the guy who was shot in NM was Billy the Kid or someone else and if Billy ended up living out his days with his Me...more
This is only for people who have an interest in historical outlaw figures. Thieves and other criminals have been around since the beginning of time, it doesn't seem to matter what culture or period in history, and many times they choose this life, not because they need to steal or cheat to survive.
This book is very detailed and probably the most accurate and complete history of Billy the Kid, or any outlaw for that matter, I have read. There was a little too much detail my for interest. For ins...more
I enjoyed the way the author started the book from the beginning, rather as a couple of other books on Billy the Kid, which started at the end of his life. I thought it was very interesting learning about William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim alias Billy the Kid. The circumstances and environment in which he lived shaped his life and decisions.
Glenn Banks DDS
I think I was just not in the mood for this type of book. there is great detail in this book, and for me too much I think I would have preferred more of a story type book. what I did learn from the book was that his legend was probably more to do with bad luck as he grew up to become an outlaw and the time were others once his death used his name to write stories.
Aug 18, 2008 Squanchers rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Billy the Kid nuts (who have probably already read it)
Recommended to Squanchers by: Devin
Shelves: biographies
The book was incredibly boring. It was one of those books where you really, really had to concentrate one what you were reading regardless of how EXCITING!!!! it was. There where to many names that where only introduced once so you kinda forgot who was who. I guess when you read this book be prepared to have a piece of paper and a pen to list them all down. Nevertheless if you can stand boring books it would be good to read for a paper because it has A LOT of facts. Maybe im just not used to rea...more
Mar 31, 2011 Adrian added it
Cudos to historian Utley for weeding through a forest of mythology about the famed gunman's doings to produce an easy to read, entertaining and logical account of Billy the Kid's life. Most of his criminal activity was as a hired gun in the Lincoln County war, a business turf war in southern New Mexico. Once that war was over the Kid had plenty of chance to leave the territory. He chose to stay and continue cattle rustling and horse stealing- his sticky end became a foregone conclusion.
When I was studying at the University of New Mexico, I used to drive through Ft. Sumner frequently between my hometown and Abq. I stopped in one time at the museum there and asked the clerk which biography of The Kid was the most factual. She mentioned Utley's so I picked it up, started reading it and then couldn't put the book down. A great read and probably is the most factual.
Judith Rapping
As much detailed information as you'll find anywhere on Billy the Kid, who was only 21 when he was shot down by Sherrif Pat Garrett. Includes several references to a distant cousin (of mine) Louis Bousman (aka "the Animal") who rode with Pat Garrett in his capture of Billy the Kid at Stinking Springs, NM, and was involved in some major gunfights in Tascosa, Texas.
This is a well researched book. My only problem with it is that a lot of the time it felt like I was not reading a book so much as a list. This person did this on this date in this place.
Robert Bartram
Seems to an historical account of the life of William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid, it separates the myth from the real. You can't go wrong reading Robert M. Utley's account. The Kid, it could be argued, is one of the Wild West's tragic figures.
Mary Chambers
Robert Utley has done a great job in his factually-based portrayal of Billy The Kid. He brings to life the exciting, real life drama surrounding the Lincoln County War and Billy's role in that saga.
Billy the Kid facinates me, as he must others since they made a major motion picture about him. Someday I would love to visit all the places in New Mexico where he lived his short life.
An eye-opener. Billy didn't do nearly as much as most people have been led to believe.
Kevin Lucia
Excellent. A little dry, but also clear and straight facts.
Apr 12, 2014 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: school required
Definitely an interesting story.
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Robert Marshall Utley is an author and historian who has written sixteen books on the history of the American West. He was a former chief historian of the National Park Service. Fellow historians commend Utley as the finest historian of the American frontier in the 19th century.

The Western History Association annually gives out the Robert M. Utley Book Award for the best book published on the mili...more
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