A book by Mark Lee Gardner< read all 2 reviews
Until I read this book I had only read mythological accounts of Billy the Kid, which usually contain nothing of Pat Garrett’s life. Books and movies have mythologized Bill they Kid as a Robin Hood type, happy go lucky outlaw and Pat Garrett is demonized as a cowardly man who shot him down in the dark.
This book dispels those myths and gives a fuller account of the lives of both these men in a well written and documented dual biography.
The book walks through the early life of both men, with William Bonney’s (Billy the Kid) being much more mysterious and unclear. He documents the Kid’s rambling nature and his involvement in the Lincoln’s County wars in New Mexico, where he comes off looking not quite as narcissistic and craven as one would think. It is clear that Bonney had little few skills except with his gun, which is the only way he could really make a living. His unbelievable, daring, and bloody escapes are even more dramatic than the movies that portray them. The author does an outstanding job at using what little documentary evidence exists to bring to life, real life, Billy the Kid.
But the book also has done a great service to the ill fated Pat Garrett. I knew absolutely nothing about Garrett before reading this book and the author provides a very vivid, full biography of this misunderstood Western lawman. Far from the cowardly person often portrayed in the movies, he was a man of honor, kept his word (mostly), and was equally the epitome of the fearless, tough lawman as the more famous and renowned Wyatt Earp. He did fall on hard times and was a rather bad business man, which ultimately lead to his downfall and possibly murder. The author does a splendid job of exploring his life and the mysterious events surrounding his death.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of the American West that is not based on myth.
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