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To Hell on a Fast Horse (2010)

de Mark Lee Gardner

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"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, each a larger-than-life figure who would not have become legendary without the other.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I never knew too much about "Billy the Kid", only he was an outlaw, one of the bad guys, who committed some crimes. I was enthralled by this history of not only Billy but also the history of Pat Garrett, the sheriff who had hunted him and finally shot him.
The book looks into their pasts, to get some understanding on what went into making them the men they became, and neither "Billy" aka William Bonney aka William Antrim nor Pat Garrett were saints. Both men though were well-liked by many, so neither were monsters, just had lots of faults. I never knew that Billy had an uncanny ability to break out of any jail he was put in, so that to stop him from from cattle and horse stealing from just about everyone, he had to be killed, and he pretty much said so himself. I found the tale interesting, and a great picture of what life was like in post-civil war New Mexico territory and it really was the "wild west". It is also a tale of dogged determination to rid the area of what many considered a pest.
The book most of all de-mystifies the legends surrounding both, showing how very human both men were. In the words of Sallie Chisum, a good friend to both, " I knew both these men intimately, and each made history in his own way. There was good mixed with the bad in Billy the Kid and bad mixed with the good in Pat Garrett. Both were distinctly human, both remarkable personalities. Now matter what they did in the world or what the world thought of them, they were my friends. Both were real men. Both worth knowing." And I am glad to have read this book, and add to my insight of our American history and two more players who made it so colorful. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review-- thank you! ( )
  Stacy_Krout | Oct 26, 2020 |
This is the nonfiction historical biography of both Henry Antrim, a.k.a. Henry McCarty, a.k.a. William Bonney, a.k.a. Billito, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, and Pat Garrett, the man made famous for shooting him. It provides a detailed inside look at the true story behind the legends and myths that abound, often siting first person resources.

This is, without a doubt, the best book on Billy the Kid I have read as yet. It tells both sides of the story in an honest and straightforward way that is equally captivating and educating. It is a well-researched, well-written work that was as entertaining and interesting to read as a novel, but filled to the brims with little-known facts and in-depth history about the men behind the legends. Five well-deserved stars... more gold stars than Pat Garrett had! ( )
  SDaisy | Nov 19, 2019 |
Until I read this book I had only read mythological accounts of Billy the Kid, which usually contain nothing of Pat Garrett’s life. Books and movies have mythologized Bill they Kid as a Robin Hood type, happy go lucky outlaw and Pat Garrett is demonized as a cowardly man who shot him down in the dark.

This book dispels those myths and gives a fuller account of the lives of both these men in a well written and documented dual biography.

The book walks through the early life of both men, with William Bonney’s (Billy the Kid) being much more mysterious and unclear. He documents the Kid’s rambling nature and his involvement in the Lincoln’s County wars in New Mexico, where he comes off looking not quite as narcissistic and craven as one would think. It is clear that Bonney had little few skills except with his gun, which is the only way he could really make a living. His unbelievable, daring, and bloody escapes are even more dramatic than the movies that portray them. The author does an outstanding job at using what little documentary evidence exists to bring to life, real life, Billy the Kid.

But the book also has done a great service to the ill fated Pat Garrett. I knew absolutely nothing about Garrett before reading this book and the author provides a very vivid, full biography of this misunderstood Western lawman. Far from the cowardly person often portrayed in the movies, he was a man of honor, kept his word (mostly), and was equally the epitome of the fearless, tough lawman as the more famous and renowned Wyatt Earp. He did fall on hard times and was a rather bad business man, which ultimately lead to his downfall and possibly murder. The author does a splendid job of exploring his life and the mysterious events surrounding his death.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of the American West that is not based on myth.
( )
  DougBaker | Jul 24, 2019 |
What do you know about Pat Garrett?

Probably not much more than that he killed Billy the Kid. (Some would even argue that, but Gardner is decidedly not in that camp.) Billy is one of the key foundations of New Mexico tourism. He's the subject of novels, songs, movies, and a ballet. Every jail break of the Kid's is commemorated with a plaque, his grave well maintained. Garrett's grave isn't. People do DNA tests more than 100 years after the event to prove the Kid didn't die in 1881. No one much remembers Garrett's murder, a far more mysterious and interesting death than the Kid's. The Kid had imposters. Garrett never did.

Part of that may have been the name. If William Bonney aka William Antrim aka the Kid aka Henry McCarty hadn't been rebranded as Billy the Kid seven months before his death, both men would have ended up as obscure historical figures. The Kid was already famous but, when Garrett instinctively shot him in that dark room, he was dragged into history's spotlight with Billy.

Frankly, I almost didn't read this book. The Kid has never been that interesting to me. However, I thought there might be some coverage of the Lincoln County War. There is - but only in relation to Billy's role. The subtitle, vaguely hinting at a detailed look of Garrett's pursuits of Billy, isn't all that tempting . And, fortunately, it isn't all that appropriate either. This is, in fact, the first dual biography of both men.

Gardner concisely, clearly, with just a dash of folksy prose and wry humor, presents both lives. Both men killed at early ages - Garrett before he was ever a lawman. Both were attractive to women. And while Billy attended Garrett's second wedding, the men were not friends - or enemies - before Garrett went after the Kid in an official capacity. And both were, of course, cool under fire.

With a lithe frame better suited to climbing up chimneys than the rigors of punching cows, the Kid comes across as neither a psychopathic killer nor an innocent driven to outlawry by the Lincoln County War. But, as Gardner argues, he developed an increasingly casual attitude toward dealing out violence as time went on. But he was generous - he stopped to pay for some rope after riding out of town in the wake of a double murder he committed breaking out of the Lincoln County jail.

But it was Garrett I found more fascinating, especially his life as a man on the make in the 26 years between shooting the Kid and his own violent death. Besides manhunting, he tried real estate, horse breeding, collecting custom dues, orchard development, and ranching. He was a gambler at heart whether with cards or business speculation. Nothing seemed to work very well though. The bills piled up. The debt collectors, oddly, didn't - perhaps intimidated by his potential for violence and his law license. He loved his wife and eight children but spent a great deal of time away from them often with a woman only known as Mrs. Brown.

And just as fascinating as Garrett and the Kid are the other lives woven with theirs in a state where theft and killing were a path to high office. New Mexico at this time was a place where complex, shifting alliances waged literal and figurative war on each other with money, lawyers, and often bullets. Men went from assassin to lawmen and back, where the military was corrupted (the Posse Comitatus Act forbidding military enforcement of civilian law comes out of the Lincoln County War), where a governor turned bestselling author reneged on a promised pardon, where an attorney who may have hired out murders ends up as Secretary of Interior, and where a man who knew Billy as a boy ends up ghost writing Garrett's autobiography.

In short, even if you don't have any interest in the Kid, Gardner tells a good, fascinating story of a place and its people and the almost forgotten Garrett. If you are interested in the Kid, Gardner lays his life out fairly and with interest. ( )
  RandyStafford | Feb 28, 2012 |
Themes: crime and justice, a Western, law and order, outlaw society
Setting: New Mexico, mostly, also Texas and Arizona

This is sort of a dual biography of Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney, Henry Antrim, and Kid Antrim, and Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who swore to bring the Kid in. And he did, but it wasn't quite as easy as it sounded. The Kid was a legend for getting himself out of tight spots. But Garrett was determined.

This book explores (sometimes at a little too much length) the conditions that existed in the Old West, the cattle wars, the buffalo raids, and the social structure with the Mexican or Hispanic population and the Anglos. It was an interesting build up, but it made it a little tedious to keep track of all the bit players. The book was more interesting in the play between to the two main characters and at the end, when it covered the third act, the beginning of the legend surrounding Billy the Kid and what happened to Pat Garrett afterward. It was a fun story, but it could have been a little better. 3.5 stars ( )
  cmbohn | Jul 5, 2010 |
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Some men find an unaccountable fascination in the danger and outlawry of the frontier far beyond my understanding.
- Susan E Wallace, wife of Governor Lew Wallace, New Mexico Territory
I don't think history possibly can be true.
- Orson Welles
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For my daughter and son, Christiana and Vance
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You can feel the ghosts as you speed down the long, lonely roads of eastern New Mexico.
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"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, each a larger-than-life figure who would not have become legendary without the other.

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