Born Henry McCarty, Billy the Kid was a diminutive, charming, blond-haired young man who, growing up in New York, Kansas, and later New Mexico, demonstrated a precocious dexterity at firing six-shooters with either hand a skill that both got him into and out of trouble and that turned him into an American legend of the old West. Read more...
Born Henry McCarty, Billy the Kid was a diminutive, charming, blond-haired young man who, growing up in New York, Kansas, and later New Mexico, demonstrated a precocious dexterity at firing six-shooters with either hand a skill that both got him into and out of trouble and that turned him into an American legend of the old West. He was smart, well-spoken, attractive to both white and Mexican women, a good dancer, and a man with a nose for money, horses, and trouble. His spree of crimes and murders has been immortalized in dime westerns, novels, and movies. But the whole story of his short, epically violent life has never been told as it has been here.
In The Kid, Ron Hansen showcases his masterful research and inimitable style as he breathes life into history, bringing readers back into the late 1800s and into Billy s boyhood as a ranch hand just trying to wrest a fortune from an unforgiving landscape. We are with Billy in every gunfight and horse theft and get to know him in full before his grand death in a hail of bullets in 1881 at the age of twenty-one. Original, powerful, and swiftly told, The Kid is an unforgettable read about a uniquely American anti-hero."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Hansen’s (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) fictional treatment of Billy the Kid, the Old West killer, is entertaining and lively, a portrayal of swift and deadly frontier justice in the early 1880s of New Mexico. This is a fictionalized biography of Billy (1859–1881), but Hansen is no apologist for Billy’s cattle rustling, horse stealing, and murderous ways; instead, revealing Billy the Kid for what he really was—a handsome, likable, cold-blooded gunman. Much of the story covers the Lincoln County War between two rival business and political factions, the Murphy-Dolan bunch of owlhoots and the Tunstall-McSween partnership favored by Billy and his unwashed gang of vigilante Regulators. When Tunstall is murdered by a Murphy-Dolan posse, Billy and his saddle pals vow bloody revenge, and start bumping off Murphy-Dolan men, including the crooked county sheriff. When the Kid is not gunning down baddies and others who just get in the way, he is flirting, singing, and dancing with Mexican beauties, and courting Sallie Chisum, the niece of a real-life cattle baron, John Chisum. Both gangs get whittled down by soaking up too much lead, until Billy is convicted of murder, escapes jail after killing his two jailers, and is pursued by tenacious lawman Pat Garrett. Hansen’s colorful description of the New Mexico Territory as a lawless land of lying politicians and thieving businessmen is historically accurate, resulting in an excellent, transportive read. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)