Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

Written by Michael Wallis
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

Henry McCarty aka William Bonney aka Billy the Kid lived a short but violent life from 1859 until he was killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. Michael Wallis attempts to debunk the myth about this famous outlaw. The book should have been titled The Life and Times of Billy the Kid because it also presents a broad picture of how people lived in the West during young Billy’s short life.

With over fifty pages of endnotes, Wallis has gathered a thorough background of Billy’s life. Believed to have been born in an Irish neighborhood of New York City, young Henry McCarty and his family moved to Wichita, Kansas, to Denver, Colorado, and finally to New Mexico. He learned to survive in the streets by becoming an expert at handling a gun. Because he was small of stature and very thin, he was unable to hold his own in a fistfight. The LincolnCounty wars, fought during the 1870s, created an arena whereby powerful men, to fight their opposition, would use young men like Billy the Kid to fight their battles.

I enjoyed reading this biography. I have a better understanding of Billy the Kid and now realize he wasn’t the terrible killer that has been presented in books and movies in recent years. His life was an example of how a young man who lived by the gun died by the gun.