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Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  746 ratings  ·  107 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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Corey Recko I don't think he ever answered to it himself (just "Kid" or "the Kid") but started being called "Billy the Kid" during the final months of his life af…moreI don't think he ever answered to it himself (just "Kid" or "the Kid") but started being called "Billy the Kid" during the final months of his life after the escape from Lincoln made international news.(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Eli Hornyak
Well researched, however less than a quarter of the book was about Billy the kid. There was a lot of information about the people that were tangentially connected to the Kid. Even some biographical info on people that may have been near the kid. The last couple chapters were the best. I don’t think I need to read any more books on this subject.
Feb 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good read - informative and detailed. The author was clearly interested in his subject and took an even handed view.

The problem of course is that so much with regard to Billy the Kid is conjecture as very little verifiable proof is available, including the place of his birth ( many think NY but many think elsewhere ), who his father was, how many he actually killed as opposed to being blamed for........The fact that he has become an American myth coupled with little provable fa
Jun 11, 2011 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
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
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 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
Terry Bonner
Jul 31, 2012 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
Kevin Lucia
Nov 25, 2011 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...
Feb 20, 2012 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
Paul Pessolano
Jan 01, 2015 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 did n
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history, biography
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
Aug 29, 2016 added it
This author attempts to piece together the life of Billy the Kid in an unbiased manner. He clearly read many of the books already out there about the Kid, interviewed anyone who might have information and then wrote this book. He also provides an historical overview of the period of history in which Billy the Kid lived so that he could be judged in light of the times. Overall it was a good book except that it could have been much shorter given that much of the information was repeated sometimes ...more
Mar 02, 2008 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
Aug 31, 2008 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.
Sep 24, 2008 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. ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very informative. I learned so much about Henry McLarty, alias "Billy the Kid".....much of which astonished me. ...more
Nov 28, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, crime
This was a fairly interesting biography of an American legend. Of course you come to realize nearly all of the legend is made up in dime novels and pulp books of the era. He was still a pretty amazing shot, to make up for his small frame. Interesting tidbits were learned here and there. Sometimes it got a little dense with other names and that just usually doesn't sink in well when I'm listening to an audio book. The narrator did a nice job, though. ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well, I just read this book, and I think I can give it a good recommendation. I have read Robert Utley's biography of Billy, and I think Wallis does him more justice, though I wouldn't speak ill of Utley's book.

What Wallis does is assemble the few facts that one can definitely put weight on in Billy's life. His birthdate is only speculation, his birthplace is only speculation, even his father is a matter of conjecture. How and when his mother came to America (there were lots of Catherine Antrim
Dec 22, 2011 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
Taylor Hensel
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trying to find a book about notorious New Mexico outlaw Henry McCarty, alias Henry Antrim, alias William Antrim, alias Kid Antrim, alias William H. Bonney *gasps for breath*, alias Billy Bonney, alias Billy the Kid, that is entertaining but also user-friendly can be somewhat of a challenge. On one hand you've got Robert Utley's "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life," which is factually stunning and well-researched but also disappointingly dry. Then you've got pretty much everything Frederick ...more
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
TITLE: Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

AUTHOR: Michael Wallis

GENRE: Wild West History

PAGES: 368

FORMAT: E-book

PRICE: $17.95 paperback; $13.49 e-book

Among the wild west’s larger than life figures, Billy the Kid ranks in the top five of notable figures. Between books, movies and music, Billy the Kid remains at the forefront of our imagination. The question that is seldom asked is who was he REALLY?

Michael Wallis give us the answer in his book Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. In this book, Wallis tra
Nov 02, 2011 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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is a biography and an American West legend. Mr. Wallis is a best-selling author and an award winning reporter.

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is a project which is problematic and I command the author for taking it on. There is very little known about Billy the Kid, as the author mentions almost at the beginning, and at this time it’s difficult to distinguish the man from the legend.

Due to the fact that no only don’t we know muc
Mar 23, 2011 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
Pierce Jones
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Billy the Kid is an infamous outlaw of wild west, who is often misrepresented because of the years of myth that were created. It is often difficult to separate fact from fiction when talking about the young man that was Billy, however Billy the Kid: The endless Ride examines the Kid as honestly as can be done for someone so shrouded in myth and legend. The author also does an excellent job at looking at what was going on at the time that would have influenced Billy to be the way that he was. Thr ...more
Aug 04, 2014 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 subsequen ...more
Hilary "Fox"
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
May 06, 2012 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
Vic Lauterbach
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This narrative history tells the story of a short life clearly, carefully and as accurately as possible considering there are almost no certainties about the Kid's life. Wallis does an excellent good job of balancing biography with historiography. He does not let the mythical Kid of later years dominate the book. He touches on how popular literature mythologized the Kid without attempting a comprehensive review of the material. That task that would fill volumes and add nothing to our understandi ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not many facts are known about Billy the Kid's life. He has been known by many names and even his birthplace remains a mystery. Writing about one of the most iconic American outlaws therefore was a difficult task that Michael Wallis ends up doing pretty well in this biography. A great part of this book is about context and the author ends up assuming what Billy and his fellow outlaws probably did rather than describing facts. This is alright because the writing style is very readable and the wor ...more
May 28, 2012 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
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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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