The Sundance Kid: The Life of Harry Alonzo Longabaugh

Written by Donna B. Ernst
Review by Wisteria Leigh

The Sundance Kid, an alias derived from a Wyoming town, was born Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, one of five children in a dysfunctional family from a blue-collar town in Pennsylvania. He stood six feet tall, a handsome young rustler with a reputation as a member of the Wild Bunch Gang riding alongside Butch Cassidy. Myth and legend surround this outlaw who was surprisingly well read.

Donna Ernst, who is married to a relative of Longabaugh, has spent over 25 years researching this man. She has based his biography on photos, Pinkerton files, historical archives, family correspondence and her husband’s family history. His outlaw years began in Colorado, and to this day controversy continues as to which robberies were actually his responsibility. The author disputes the records on file and provides arguments to support her claim. Exhausted from his constant flight from detectives, he and his wife, Ethel, sailed to South America where he had trouble with authorities again. His life ended by gunshot in San Vincente, Bolivia in 1908.

This is an interesting and well-written story about the Sundance Kid. You would think a story about the infamous outlaw would be exciting and dramatic; it’s not. But what make this book fun are the occasional anecdotes about his travels and exploits. These opportunities are embraceable and, with the numerous period photos, save it from being a laborious read.