The Real Bill the Kid by Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr.
Published as a limited edition in 1936, Miguel Antonio Otero’s The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War is a landmark biography of the infamous Western outlaw otherwise known as William H. Bonney, Jr.—his brief childhood, gunfights, encounters with the Apache Indians, 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.
Otero knew his subject at first-hand: “I liked The Kid very much. . . nothing would have pleased me more than to have witnessed his escape.” Much of his account is based on personal interviews with involved parties. Interweaving documentary techniques, ethnography, and elements of autobiography, Otero’s study paints a complex landscape of Southwestern politics and culture after the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It is the first narrative to depict the outlaw’s cultural and political relationship with Mexican Americans, to whom he was the mythic hero Bilito. In a detailed critical introduction, John-Michael Rivera argues that Otero’s account undermines the standard Euro-American image of Billy the Kid and thereby subversively questions the rhetoric of Manifest Destiny that swept across the United States during the late nineteenth century.