Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw

S. & S. Jul. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781501117480. $28. CRIME
Though most people associate outlaw Butch Cassidy with Paul Newman’s performance in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Leerhsen (Ty Cobb) offers a fuller portrait in this entertaining biography of an American legend. Born in 1866 to English immigrants who had settled in Utah, Cassidy, whose given name was Robert LeRoy Parker, grew up poor and largely unsupervised: a background that impacted his outlook on survival and adventure in later years. He started small, stealing cattle and horses, and later graduated to robbing banks. Leerhsen separates fact from the fiction surrounding Cassidy, including his reputation as the Robin Hood of the American West and the daring escapades of his “Wild Bunch” gang. Despite Cassidy’s skills as a cowboy and his ability to orchestrate clever heists, he was no match for the Pinkerton detective agency, which was hired by railroad barons who were fed up with Cassidy’s infamous train robberies. Eventually Cassidy and his accomplice Harry Alonzo Longabaugh (better known as the Sundance Kid) relocated to South America, where the schemes continued.
VERDICT While not as detailed as Kerry Ross Boren’s Butch Cassidy: The Untold Story, Leerhsen’s biography is an accessible, quick read that is sure to delight fans of the genre.
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