A retro review from January 25, 2010 …
Review: To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West, Mark Lee Gardner, 2010.
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. Continue reading