To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West

To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West

3.7 23
by Mark Lee Gardner
     
 

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A sheriff . . .

An outlaw . . .

A legendary showdown.

Billy the Kid—a.k.a. Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, and William Bonney—was a horse thief, cattle rustler, charismatic rogue, and cold-blooded killer. A superb shot, the Kid gunned down four men single-handedly and five others with the help of cronies. Two of

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Overview

A sheriff . . .

An outlaw . . .

A legendary showdown.

Billy the Kid—a.k.a. Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, and William Bonney—was a horse thief, cattle rustler, charismatic rogue, and cold-blooded killer. A superb shot, the Kid gunned down four men single-handedly and five others with the help of cronies. Two of his victims were Lincoln County, New Mexico, deputies killed during the Kid's brazen daylight escape from the courthouse jail on April 28, 1881.

After dispensing with his guards and breaking the chain securing his leg irons, the Kid danced a macabre jig on the jail's porch before riding away on a stolen horse as terrified townspeople—and many sympathizers—watched. For new sheriff Pat Garrett, an acquaintance of Billy's, the chase was on. . . .

To Hell on a Fast Horse re-creates the thrilling manhunt for the Wild West's most iconic outlaw. It is also the first dual biography of the Kid and Garrett, each a larger-than-life figure who would not have become legendary without the other. Drawing on voluminous primary sources and a wealth of published scholarship, Mark Lee Gardner digs beneath the myth to take a fresh look at these two men, their relationship, and their epic ride to immortality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Western historian Gardner (Wagons for the Santa Fe Trade) delivers a “dual biography” documenting Sheriff Pat Garrett's hunt for the iconic outlaw William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. As Gardner sees it, the battle between the wily Kid and the determined Garrett is “perhaps the greatest of our Old West legends.” Digging beneath the myths and melodrama, he begins in Las Vegas during Christmas week, 1880, when the capture and confinement of Billy the Kid made national headlines. Gardner then details the Kid's daring daylight courthouse escape on April 28, 1881, in a hail of gunfire, leaving bloodied bodies behind. “I am not going to leave the country,” said the Kid, “and I am not going to reform, neither am I going to be taken alive again.” The chase began, with Garrett finally gunning down the Kid on July 14, 1881. Gardner concludes with a survey of the Kid's “robust mythic afterlife” in books and films. Gardner's extensive research and authoritative approach ground this compelling historical recreation. B&w photos. (Feb. 9)
Library Journal
Historian Gardner (Wagons for the Santa Fe Trade) succeeds in writing an accessible double biography of the iconic western outlaw Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett. Maintaining an objective perspective on both men in a narrative closely tied to historic source materials, Gardner's quick-moving story follows events of the civil war in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory in 1877–78, and the Kid's death-by-shooting at the hands of Garrett in 1881. This famous shot in the dark, however, became problematic for Garrett, who for the rest of his life had to fight the image of himself as the romantic outlaw's killer. VERDICT The final chapters describing Garrett as an old-style lawman in a postfrontier society, with interactions with President Theodore Roosevelt, serve to distinguish this book from other recent Kid biographies, such as Michael Wallis's Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. Highly recommended both for readers of popular history and for scholars. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]—Nathan E. Bender, Univ, of Idaho, Moscow
Hampton Sides
“The double-helix relationship between Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett is one of the abiding fascinations of the West. No one has come closer than Mark Lee Gardner to capturing their twin destinies and their inevitable final collision....you can almost smell the gunsmoke and the sweat of the saddles. ”
David Dary
“A masterpiece! Mark Gardner’s dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett cuts through the myth to tell the real story of two real figures in the Wild West. Gardner’s scholarship is superb. This work can only be called a classic.”
Robert M. Utley
“Incredibly deep research combines with the talents of a fine historian and writer to produce superb narrative history. The true character and relationship of these two iconic westerners emerge to suppress myth and correct more than a century of tomes laden with bad history.”
From the Publisher
"Sklar adopts an accent of yesteryear.... His deep, gravelly voice adds authentic charm to the story. New Mexican Spanish mixed with frontier English gives a historic regionality to this true-crime story." —AudioFile

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061969539
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/09/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
307,679
File size:
2 MB

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What People are saying about this

David Dary
“A masterpiece! Mark Gardner’s dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett cuts through the myth to tell the real story of two real figures in the Wild West. Gardner’s scholarship is superb. This work can only be called a classic.”
Robert M. Utley
“Incredibly deep research combines with the talents of a fine historian and writer to produce superb narrative history. The true character and relationship of these two iconic westerners emerge to suppress myth and correct more than a century of tomes laden with bad history.”
Hampton Sides
“The double-helix relationship between Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett is one of the abiding fascinations of the West. No one has come closer than Mark Lee Gardner to capturing their twin destinies and their inevitable final collision....you can almost smell the gunsmoke and the sweat of the saddles. ”
From the Publisher
"Sklar adopts an accent of yesteryear.... His deep, gravelly voice adds authentic charm to the story. New Mexican Spanish mixed with frontier English gives a historic regionality to this true-crime story." —-AudioFile

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Meet the Author

Mark Lee Gardner is the author of To Hell on a Fast Horse, the story of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett. An authority on the American West, Gardner has appeared on PBS's American Experience, ABC's World News, the History Channel, Encore Westerns, NPR's All Things Considered, and BBC Radio. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, American Heritage, Wild West, American Cowboy, and New Mexico magazine. Gardner lives with his family in Cascade, Colorado.

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To Hell on a Fast Horse 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Gardner does a fine job re-telling a oft-told story. He is compassionate both to Billy and his nemesis Garrett. The Kid was a cold-blooded killer but he was more than that and Pat tried his hand at many occupations after taking off his badge. Gardner recounts both lives well but really shines when he focuses on the famous manhunt. He doesn't miss the ironies of the sheriff's long downhill slide before his own violent death. There will be many more books, novels, and movies about this pair but this account is close to definitive.
JAIMEnm More than 1 year ago
Mark Lee Gardner brings to life the true story of Sheriff Pat Garrett, who killed the legendary bandit Billy the Kid. Gardner also delves into the Kid's background, much of which is still the stuff of legend. As a young Boy Scout, I developed an association with Pat Garrett: I tended his grave in the Oddfellows Cemetery, Las Cruces, New Mexico. I knew one of his daughters, Pauline, as a rather cranky old lady who owned some storefronts on Main Street. But those bits of history are quite incidental to Gardner's captivating account of the Sheriff and the Kid. A great read from cover to cover! P.S. Hampton Sides and Robert M. Utley, excellent historians themselves, give "To Hell On A Fast Horse" glowing recommendations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Billy is killed in the first half of the book, and then everything else in related to Pat Garrett. Didn't finish it. Book should have been a biography on Pat Garrett, because Billy is just another part of the cast of characters in the story.
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Andrew-j-Ferrell More than 1 year ago
A fine job telling this tale. It kept me interested and read more like a novel than History without loosing its purpose as a non-fiction account.
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cmp53 More than 1 year ago
This part of American History is one that I probably know the least about. This book provided some great insight into what life was like in the Wild West. Up until now, Billy the Kid was a fictious character...this book brought him to life. Definitely enjoyed it.
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khl More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be balanced all around the issues of Billy the Kid and the events of his life. History teaches us that few folks are truly hero's or truly villains. This book balanced these issues very well. I will give this book to others and it will be re-read from my library regularly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Want to read ...bad
Kieran51 More than 1 year ago