Billy the Kid: His Life and Legend

Overview

Was Billy the Kid the most romantic of western desperadoes or a vicious killer? Ever since the Kid was shot by Pat Garrett in 1881, historians, storytellers, and filmmakers have been recounting and reinventing his life. In 1983 Jon Tuska published his first edition of Billy the Kid, and it was immediately recognized as the most accurate account yet produced. Choice called it "A magnificent tour de force and a model for others who would study legendary heroes of the American West." Now Tuska returns to the Kid in ...
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Overview

Was Billy the Kid the most romantic of western desperadoes or a vicious killer? Ever since the Kid was shot by Pat Garrett in 1881, historians, storytellers, and filmmakers have been recounting and reinventing his life. In 1983 Jon Tuska published his first edition of Billy the Kid, and it was immediately recognized as the most accurate account yet produced. Choice called it "A magnificent tour de force and a model for others who would study legendary heroes of the American West." Now Tuska returns to the Kid in this new and expanded edition, examining the histories, novels, films, and other interpretations of the Kid that have appeared over the last 12 years. As with the earlier edition, this remains the most comprehensive and accurate reconstruction of the West's most legendary figure.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Revised and expanded from Billy the Kid: A Bio-Bibliography (1983), lauded as the most thorough and accurate account of the romantic desperado and a model for dealing with legendary figures (like football players, perhaps). The new edition extends the coverage of the legend to include histories, novels, films, and other interpretations of The Kid since then. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826317704
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

JON TUSKA is a prolific writer on the American West and film. In addition to his numerous books and articles, he has been involved in film and television productions.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition

Acknowledgments

The Life and Death of Billy the Kid

Billy and the Historians

Billy the Kid in Fiction

Billy the Kid in Film

The Legend of Billy the Kid

Appendix A: A Billy the Kid Miscellany

Appendix B: A Billy the Kid Chronology

Notes

Bibliography

Idex

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2000

    Billy the Kid: Historical Fact Separated from Romantic Fiction.

    Billy the Kid was neither the most romantic of western desperadoes nor a vicious killer. He was, for his time, a reasonably well-educated young cowboy who went to work for legitimate rancher/businessmen who were in conflict with a local and state government that were so incredibly corrupt that even Governor Lew Wallace couldn't save him. He wound up being 'outlawized' by an equally corrupt and sensationalistic press. Ironically, he was the only participant in the Lincoln County War who was sentenced (railroaded) to hang. Ever since the Kid was ambushed by Pat Garrett in 1881, historians, storytellers, and filmmakers have depended primarily on Pat Garrett's self-serving 'Authentic Life of Billy the Kid'. Jon Tuska, basing his work on documentary evidence, separates what is known of the facts from the fiction about Billy to produce the most accurate account of Billy and the Lincoln County War. He then turns to the standard legendary elements and shows wherein they differ from known facts. Tuska goes on to critique the standard histories, novels, and films that feature Billy. I consider this book to be the standard against which all other Billy the Kid materials are to be measured.

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