ALIAS BILLY THE KID
The Man Behind The Legend
“Alias Billy the Kid tends to zero in on specific events in The Kid’s life not generally written about, and provides exhaustive detail and documentation on dates, locations, and people involved. There are many controversial theories in this book. The image the author paints of The Kid is hardly flattering. On the contrary, according to him, Billy was a deceitful user of men, filled with cruel cunning, and perhaps the lowest blow of all, a coward! Quite a different picture from the generous, loyal and courageous young man spoken of by those who knew him well.
“There is a full listing of bibliographical sources at the back of the book. Also of interest is a chapter on ‘Counterfeit Kids’ noting various outlaws tagged with the sobriquet ‘Kid’ who were either mistaken for him or just fancied themselves to be like him. Informative and entertaining. Recommended for the reader newly interested in the life of William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.”
—Elisa Gudino, The Kid
“NOLA is fortunate in having as one of its contributing editors Donald Cline of Albuquerque who is a careful, diligent researcher and whose chief objective is to get at the truth of the matter. That is the aim of this book and what he has accomplished is no less than a major historical breakthrough. Cline has done the kind of basic research that should have been done long ago and what he reveals about Billy the Kid surely will startle if not shock you. The question arises, why have not all the researchers and writers who have been working on Billy before come up with this information?
“This is the greatest book on Billy the Kid since Pat Garrett had Ash Upton write his ‘authentic life.’ It is a sensational job of research that provides surprising new information. We find for example two Catherine Antrims; we discover that Billy and his brother were sent from New York to New Mexico, thence back to New York where Billy killed a man. We discover Billy’s genealogy leading to Ireland. And much more. ‘Of all American historical personages, more lies, misrepresentations, myths and legends have been presented [about him] than any other,’ notes Cline in his foreword.
“An illegitimate born in New York in 1859, Billy was first named Henry McCarty, was later called Henry Antrim, then William H. Bonney, and William Antrim. After years of investigation Cline concludes Bonney was a ‘personable young man who was not only a coward but a petty cattle thief who sacrificed his friends’ lives in order to protect his own safety…. He was a liar, a thief and a user of persons… He was a cold-blooded murderer who never risked anything.’ The details make interesting reading, disturbing to those who prefer him as a Robin Hood, gratifying to those who prefer the truth.”
—NOLA Quarterly (Quarterly of the National Association and Center for Outlaw and Lawman History)
“As one of America’s most enduring heroes, Billy the Kid still awaits a complete and factual biography. Cline has now brought that possibility a giant step closer. The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, by Sheriff Pat Garrett, lacked accuracy even though it was published just a year after the Kid’s death, and such spurious blockbusters as The Saga of Billy the Kid, by Walter Noble Burns, did little more than fuel the myth. Other biographers have often incorporated the basic errors of Garrett and Burns and, during the last few years, as considerable nonsense has become entrenched, the real Billy the Kid has gotten more remote. Now Don Cline provides hope that maybe there is an authentic Billy the Kid after all.
“Most biographers, including this one, never believed the Kid was born and grew up in New York City. Cline says we are wrong, and builds a good case. He has not only located Billy the Kid and his brother Joe on the New York streets, but he has also unearthed the Kid’s mother, documenting her boarding the Deavonshire out of Ireland, bound for New York harbor. Cline even identifies the Kid’s real father, a married fruit peddler named Edward McCarty (no relation to Catherine). The author described the Kid’s troubles in the Big Apple, where he killed a friend, and then determinedly tracks him to the wilds of New Mexico where miner William H. Antrim married the Kid’s mother and adopted him and brother Joe. There is not much evidence that Antrim liked women, although no evidence exists that he was homosexual either, and he apparently took the family as a package deal.
“Cline trails the Kid to his death, and provides new details along the way. The author even located a bloody pocketbook carried by Bob Olinger, killed by the Kid with a shotgun at the Lincoln, New Mexico, courthouse. Five letters were inside, and all are printed in the book. Cline’s book furnishes the most important Billy the Kid revelations in years.”
—Leon C. Metz, True West