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, 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, two larger-than-life figures who would not have become the stuff of legend 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 what they would come to mean to a public enamored of the violent past of the Wild West.
©2009 Mark Lee Gardner (P)2010 Tantor
“Gardner's research is so richly detailed, you can almost smell the gunsmoke and the sweat of the saddles.” (Hampton Sides, author of the New York Times best seller Blood and Thunder)
Wonderfully written, engaging and riveting. Very well read. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It seems to be well researched and stays true to the facts that are verified. Absolutely recommended.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of the old west and history. I learned a great deal about the Kid and his killer. Neither were heroes, but they were definitely human beings. Flaws and all.
Pat Garrett. He always seems to get the shaft in any comparisions of him and the Kid. I liked him, and I thought it's hard to kill a legend and not get the blame. He did his job and really got little respect for it.
I don't remember any other performances by Mr. Sklar. He was fine, with a perceptible drawl in the right parts. My only complaint would be he made long pauses sometimes that made me wonder what he was smoking...
Billy's poignant letters to Governor Lew Wallace, who had promised him amnesty and then turned his back on him. Sure Billy tried to blackmail him, but a promise is a promise!
I have read many books on Billy the Kid and this was a pleasant book that delves into Mr. Garrett's life more than any other book I had read before. It was very enlightening on what his life was like after the death of the Kid. No matter what else he did in his life, The Kid would always be mentioned with his name.
Gardner appears to have twin goals in this book. One is to write an authoritative history of two already well-documented historical figures, and the second is to spin an entertaining Western yarn. Unfortunately, his research seems to be primarily from better works that have preceded his book, such as BILLY THE KID: THE ENDLESS RIDE by Michael Wallis, and BILLY THE KID: A SHORT AND VIOLENT LIFE by esteemed Western historian Robert Utley, who also wrote an excellent history of the Lincoln County War. Gardner's annotations are skimpy and rather vague, and many of the "untold" parts are simply imagined by Gardner for the sake of spinning his tale.
The other problem with Gardner's book is that is much more about Garrett than Billy. The entire Lincoln County War is skimmed through in a chapter or two, and Billy is killed by Garrett just a little past the midpoint of the book. What fills almost the last half of the book are detailed accounts of events throughout the remainder of Garrett's life that are really not all that interesting, and undeserving of the volume of pages devoted to them. I guess is the "untold" part, but the greater availability of documentation of these events does not create absorbing reading.
The third problem with this book is the reader Alan Sklar. The worst type of audiobook actor is the frustrated actor who needs to show off how many dialects he can perform, regardless of the appropriateness of their usage, particularly in a nonfiction work. Sklar imagines himself here as an old rodeo hand from some 50's TV show, but the hundreds of "killins'" and "ridins'" in his narration do not enhance the story, nor do his pepperings of cheesy Irish and Mexican accents . . . they just add a comic element to the story that it can do without.
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