Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw, by Charles Leerhsen

Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw, by Charles Leerhsen

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For more than a century the life and death of Butch Cassidy have been the subject of legend, spawning a small industry of mythmakers and a major Hollywood film. But who was Butch Cassidy, really? Charles Leerhsen sorts out facts from folklore and paints a brilliant portrait of the celebrated outlaw of the American West.

Born into a Mormon family in Utah, Robert Leroy Parker grew up dirt poor and soon discovered that stealing horses and cattle was a fact of life in a world where small ranchers were being squeezed by banks, railroads, and cattle barons.  

He adopted the alias “Butch Cassidy,” and moved on to a new moneymaking endeavour: bank robbery.  His “Wild Bunch” gang specialized in clever getaways, stationing horses at various points along their escape route so they could outrun any posse.

Eventually Butch and his gang graduated to train robberies, which were more lucrative. But the railroad owners hired the Pinkerton Agency, whose detectives pursued Butch and his gang relentlessly. He and Harry Longabaugh (The Sundance Kid), fled to South America, where they replicated the cycle of ranching, rustling, and robbery until they met their end in Bolivia.

In Butch Cassidy, Charles Leerhsen shares his fascination with how criminals such as Butch deftly manoeuvred between honest work and thievery, battling the corporate interests that were exploiting the settlers, and showing us in vibrant prose the Old West as it really was, in all its promise and heartbreak.

“Action, adventure, derring-do, and danger. . . . An informative and vastly entertaining biography.” - Booklist