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Billy the Kid: The Legend of El Chivato [Paperback]

Elizabeth Fackler
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2003
When young Englishman John Tunstall arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory, in 1876, he felt he had found the true frontier at last. Here was the toughest little spot in America, and he jumped eagerly into the game of getting rich. Lawyer McSween coated his own ambition with pious motives, but his worldly wife predicted disaster. Their marriage, and McSween's alliance with Tunstall against the local kingpin of the corrupt Santa Fe Ring, set the fuse for the bloody Lincoln County War. In the explosion of violence that followed, Billy Bonney slowly rose from obscurity to become "the" Kid of American legend. This is how it happened. ELIZABETH FACKER is the author of the critically-praised Seth Strummar series of western novels as well as novels of psychological suspense. Her latest mystery is When Kindness Fails. She lives in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico.

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From Publishers Weekly

With his cold smile, youthful charm and blazing six-guns, Billy the Kid (1859-1881) was, depending on who you talk to, a popular hero, a vicious killer or both. Fackler's third novel (after Backtrail) tends to glorify the Kid's legacy, portraying Billy as basically a good boy, a loyal friend and a victim of corruption and betrayal. The New Mexico Territory in the 1870s was a violent place where bullets settled most disputes?and Billy liked the simplicity of that. Henry McCarty, aka Kid Antrim, William H. Bonney and Billy the Kid, was a drifter and small-time cattle rustler who joined forces with the Tunstall-Chisum faction in the bloody Lincoln County War, fighting against the powerful Murphy-Dolan gang. In Fackler's telling, when Billy's friend, John Tunstall, is murdered by a Dolan posse, Billy vows revenge and cowboys start dropping all over the range. Billy and his saddle pals, dubbed "Regulators," are soon on the run from the law. Fackler's Billy is a likable hero, adored by the local folk but feared by the murderous Murphy-Dolan gunslingers. Finally, he is tracked down by his erstwhile friend Sheriff Pat Garrett, who, according to the author, shoots Billy dead while the Kid is unarmed. This is an exciting tale, crammed with historic detail and told with skill, action and a bit of whimsy.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Billy The Kid Feb. 23 2004
Format:Paperback
I'm a writer and actor who became interested in Billy The Kid and the events of the Lincoln County War in southeastern New Mexico when I played Pat Garrett in a production of Michael Ondaatje's play "The Collected Works of Billy The Kid", based on Ondaatje's poetic "novel" of the same name.
Over the last twenty years, I've visited the town of Lincoln, NM, on several occasions, talked with many of its inhabitants, and I think I've read every major historical work and most of the reputable works of fiction written about Billy and the war. I've seen a goodly protion of the movies, too; every single one of them laughable or lamentable, except for the director's cut of Sam Peckinpah's film, and even it has episodes that make you cringe.
Since 1973 there has been an astonishing amount of first-rate, genuine historiography done on The Kid, Garret, and the Lincoln County War. It is obvious from her novel that Ms. Fackler has read and thoroughly assimilated all of these recent histories. Consequently, if you have any interest in the Wild West, or Billy particularly, or just American history in general, or good writing, you have to read "Billy The Kid: The Legend of El Chivato," since the author puts all of this together in a very readable way. Also, her take on Billy is immensely sympathetic, well-rounded and most believable.
Even if this period has never attracted you, the novel is worth the time to read. I am not a big fan of historical novels, but it's a remarkable fact that in the long history of imaginative material about Billy there are hundreds of works including the ballet set to Copeland's music, and of them only one that I know of that is of any substance is written by a woman, Ms.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Needs cutting-- a lot. April 8 2003
Format:Paperback
An interesting beginning loses steam quickly and is followed by endless tales of gun fights and a cast of way too many. Reading this book is hard work at times, and prose such as-- "Now they were to spend four hours together, and the fact that Garrett was the man who stood between the Kid and freedom would be the physical truth for that span of time."--is hard to take.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Needs cutting-- a lot. April 8 2003
Format:Paperback
An interesting beginning loses steam quickly and is followed by endless tales of gun fights and a cast of way too many. Reading this book is hard work at times, and prose such as-- "Now they were to spend four hours together, and the fact that Garrett was the man who stood between the Kid and freedom would be the physical truth for that span of time."--is hard to take.
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