The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War

The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War

The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War

The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War

Synopsis

"Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr. (1859-1944), the scion of a powerful Nuevomexicano family, served two terms as Governor of New Mexico Territory. But many years before that, he met a less fortunate young man almost exactly his own age: a shackled prisoner named William H. Bonney, Jr., but better known as Billy the Kid. "I liked The Kid very much," Otero writes of his encounter, adding: "Nothing would have pleased me more than to have witnessed his escape."" "First published in a limited edition in 1936, The Real Billy the Kid is a landmark biography of the infamous Western outlaw: his brief childhood, gunfights, encounters with the Apaches, entanglement in the murderous feud known as the Lincoln County War, and finally his friendship with the man who ultimately killed him, Sheriff Pat Garrett." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

That the first Hispanic territorial governor of New Mexico, Miguel Antonio Otero, would write a biography of the legendary gunfighter Billy the Kid is in itself peculiar. For that same work to begin with an epigraph of a romantic poem by Robert Cameron Rogers continues to problematize the creation of such a literary work. the poem stands alone, without any reference or footnote of authorial intent as to its placement in this historical Southwestern biography of the notorious desperado. and yet, the romantic poem implicitly voices and thereby represents the author’s own political life as New Mexico’s first Hispanic territorial governor (1897–1907). “Like to a Ship,” then, is a carefully positioned literary device to characterize Otero’s own political life for the reader: a life that was conditioned by the neocolonial winds that “madly mingle,” and therefore he found himself having to “trim [his] sails to favor all” during the transition period when the New Mexico territory was pursuing statehood.

Similar to the implicit representation of the poetic epigraph, this historical biography of Billy the Kid continues to use both implicit and explicit literary tropes and motifs. These literary devices structure this biography into a history that redefines the image of Billy the Kid and the history of the territorial war in Lincoln County. Moreover, what The Real Billy the Kid displays throughout is an emplotted history that recounts and subversively questions U.S. colonialism as it swept through New Mexico after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848. Much as the poem begins to reveal, Otero’s recreation of the life and history of Billy the Kid not only reexamines and exposes the colonial past of New Mexico, it also deflates and undermines the dominant Anglo-American Western narratives about Billy the Kid that helped shape the popular imagination of America as being only Anglo-American in culture and history.

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