Cover image for Billy the Kid : a short and violent life
Billy the Kid : a short and violent life
Utley, Robert M., 1929-
Personal Author:
First Bison Book printing.
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

Physical Description:
xii, 302 pages, 26 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 23 cm
Examines the career of the young outlaw whose life and death were an expression of the violence prevalent on the American frontier.
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F786.B54 U87 1989C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Whatever his name or alias at the moment--Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, Kid Antrim, Billy Bonney--people always called him the Kid. Not until his final month did anyone call him Billy the Kid. Newspapers pictured him as a king of outlaws; and his highly publicized capture, trial, escape, and end fixed his image in the public mind for all time. He was only twenty-one years old when a bullet from Sheriff Pat Garett's six-shooter killed him on July 14, 1881. Within a year Billy the Kid became the subject of five dime-novel "biographies" as well as Garett's ghost-written account, and that was just the beginning. Robert M. Utley does what countless books, movies, television shows, musical compositions, and paintings have failed to do: he successfully strips off the veneer of legendry to expose the reality of Billy the Kid. Using previously untapped sources, he presents an engrossing story--the most complete and accurate ever--of a youthful hoodlum and sometime killer who found his calling in New Mexico's bloody power struggle known as the Lincoln County War. In unmasking the legend Utley also tells us much about our heritage of frontier vigilantism and violence.

Author Notes

One of the preeminent western historians writing today, Robert M. Utley is the author of High Noon in Lincoln: Violence on the Western Frontier , Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier and The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull , as well as Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865 (1984) and Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891 (1981) published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
The Kidp. 1
The Adolescentp. 10
The Outlawp. 17
The Ranch Handp. 32
The Avengerp. 48
The Assassinp. 61
The Shootoutp. 69
The Warriorp. 76
The Firep. 88
The Drifterp. 102
The Bargainp. 111
The Rustlerp. 126
The Celebrityp. 139
The Capturep. 148
The Sentencep. 163
The Escapep. 176
The Executionp. 186
The Legendp. 197
Abbreviationsp. 208
Notesp. 209
Sourcesp. 273
Indexp. 285