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Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  93 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…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 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  610 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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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 outrig
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 an
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
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
Laura Miller
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating, interesting. I have always loved western history.
Cal Clift
Lots of information, and I did learn something about Billy the Kid, but it is more of a book about New Mexico in the late 1800's.
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
Jul 13, 2013 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 an
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
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.
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.
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.
Zohar -
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 n
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 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
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
Chris Clevenger
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this very much. I have always had a fascination with Billy the Kid and have studied him most of my life. There were a few things in here that I didn't know, mostly about his early years before the Lincoln County War so that's pretty cool. Mr. Wallis is a good historian and researcher and I had the privilege of meeting him on one of his tours of Route 66. The gentleman was kind enough to talk to me a few minutes and sign this book. Coincidentally I had a trip already planned to travel t ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very good book as introduction to the Billy the Kid. Of course I had heard about him many times before, but never read a book about Kid Antrim. Wallis' book has a good length and is much very readable. Flaws are that some topics are very stretched and others very briefly. There seems to be even more description of the city of Denver than the actual killing of Billy the Kid in 1881. But overall I very much enjoyed the book and recommend it for reading.
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great informational book about what life was like in New Mexico Territory in the late 1800's. Most of the information was about the environment and people who influenced Billy The Kids throughout his life. I wish there was more information about The Kid but it seems that there just isn't much reliable information out there. The book does, however, allow you to draw your own conclusions about the character of Billy The Kid and leaves you curious about diving in a bit deeper.
Rabid Readers Reviews
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
One does not expect a biography to be an exciting roller coaster ride but Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is uncommonly dry. With each event and new personality, Wallis meanders through the west giving them background and depth but also describing the landscape and eventually wandering around to the way their path crossed the Kid’s. No matter how briefly mentioned there are pages and pages of exposition in which all history is covered until this reader wonders how the central c ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well written, almost a journalistic narrative in its account. Great job in separating the myth and sensationalism from the factual life of what is known about Billy the Kid. This book is also fascinating in how well it depicts the western frontier and the desperate lives of the characters living in it following the Civil War. Helps to frame an understanding of what shaped Billy and others like him.
Chris Patterson
Was ok. More like a history of Lincoln County. Every chapter was educational and engaging, I just kept wondering what about the Kid? When is he going to talk about the Kid. Next chapter, next chapter....
Richard Wright
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding and objective coverage of Billy the Kid

I thought this was an evenhanded treatment of Billy the Kid. I particularly enjoyed the detailed history of his upbringing and early life - important context to better understand who the Kid became.
Keith Wondra
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A good book on the life of one of the Old West's most famous characters. I really enjoyed the Wichita section. The only complaint I have is that the chapters were too short. It would have been better if the author combined some of the chapters together to make the flow of the book better.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great for telling the story of the Kid - when facts are hard too come by - this book outlines the era of the old west and paints a rich picture of what it would have been like for those early americans and the word that they grew up in
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This well-researched and extensively-documented biography of Billy the Kid was an easy read. The author presents a compelling portrait of the "real" Billy, set in the authentic context of his time and locale.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK but not outstanding.

This was advertised as the best book on the life of Billy the Kid.
I have read a number of versions, this was average, the advertising ad was overly generous to the author.
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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.