William Bonney, a.k.a. "Billy the Kid", killed his first man when he was 12. By the time he was 21 he had, by his own reckoning, slain 19 more. In the intervening years, he had become "Billy the Kid", bloodthirsty ogre and outlaw saint.
Drawing on contemporary accounts, period photographs, dime novels, and his own fund of empathy and imagination, Michael Ondaatje traces Billy's passage across the blasted landscape of 1880 New Mexico and the collective unconscious of his country.