Popular Billy The Kid Books
Billy The Kid: The True Story
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Ron Hansen has a thing for outlaws. He has written about the Dalton and James gangs. The origins of the real Billy the Kid, and even his actual name, are wrapped in obscurity. In the version presented by Hansen, he is born William Henry McCarty was born in New York City in , the son of a striving mother and an ill-fated father who died at Chickamauga. He was killed on July 14, , in Fort Sumner, N. What happened during the years between his birth and death has been the source of even more speculation and cultural incantation.
Kaiser Wilhelm. Wilhelm the first or second? This was a satire — not of historical figures but of their cinematic versions. A quick search of the Internet Movie Database shows scores of films and television programs about Billy the Kid, the first appearing in His mass-entertainment clone has been with us since 19th-century dime novels, existing so independently of history that he is now free to go on a zombie rampage alongside a kaiser in a pointy Prussian helmet. But if all those westerns have made Billy famous, they have also trivialized him.
Not much is known about his parents, and it's difficult to trace his whereabouts until his family turned up in Silver City, Colo. Both the facts and the legend pick up in , when Henry—already known to some under the alias Kid—shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis's reconstruction of the Kid's exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis Route 66 shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of "desperate men" who knew how to handle a gun. At the same time, a new kind of sensationalist journalism was being created, and reporters were more than happy to contribute to the creation of a myth. Wallis, the host of PBS's new American Roads , writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase "the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves".