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The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Hardcover – February 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cassidy and Sundance, of course, are best known as the wisecracking and doomed comrades-in-crime from the film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Hatch, the acclaimed western historian, succeeds in sifting out the film’s embellishments in this excellent dual biography. Yet the portrait that emerges of these men is surprisingly similar to their characterizations in the film. Hatch describes in detail the upbringing of both, and each could be described as a “good boy” gone wrong. Cassidy, born Robert Leroy Parker, was the eldest child of a Utah Mormon couple. He grew up hardscrabble but hardworking and was described as affable and loyal to both family and friends. Sundance, born Harry Longabaugh, also was reared in a stable, religious family, in Pennsylvania. Possessed of a romantic and restless spirit, he moved westward at the age of 14. Both youths fell casually into a life of crime, moving from branding other ranchers’ stray cattle to bank holdups and train robberies. The brotherly relationship between Butch and Sundance may have been exaggerated, but they did indeed die together in Bolivia. This is an interesting and credible look at their lives and times. --Jay Freeman


The Last Outlaws…is eloquent of not only the Old West that we think of when we see a photograph of a butte or a mustang or a Colt revolver but also of the implacable forces of time and change that extinguished it.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Fans of Old West lore will find The Last Outlaws an absorbing and entertaining read.” —USA Today

The Last Outlaws is extremely well-written and feels more like a novel or work of fiction compared to a factual biography. It's a must read for any fan of the Old West and the outlaw life.” —The Desert News

“In this dual biography of celebrated bandits, a specialist in the Old West deftly separates fact from fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews

“While not the first or likely the last book to chronicle the colorful lives of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hatch has potentially written the most authoritative. Drawing from an impressive number of sources, Hatch's multidimensional study of two of the Wild West's most famous criminals and their compatriots strives for accuracy without sacrificing entertainment value…. [An] immersive and entertaining study.”—Publishers Weekly

“Mr. Hatch [is] an accomplished historian with a journalist’s eye and a novelist’s touch.” —The Washington Times

“Hatch achieves what most historical writers fail at, engaging their readers while giving a full-untainted history…. Writing about two of history's biggest outlaws is no small order. But Hatch does so beautifully, creating a vivid image of who these men truly were and what motivated them… Hatch is a skilled and veteran historical writer and his expertise shines through in his latest work.” —


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; 1 edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451239199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451239198
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By former car guy on April 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a huge fan of the wild west and its history, I should know by now that "historical" books about certain wild wild legends just cannot give the satisfaction of fact and truth that I seek. The mere fact that many of these characters, and all of the Wild Bunch, were criminals makes real research of their lives almost impossible. Add to this the fact that just changing your name and moving to another state would effectively make you disappear and it promises a very sketchy historical biography. I was disappointed in having to plow through too many pages about Butch's and Sundances's ancestors from generations back which I felt had little or no bearing on the character's lives. I also was a little disappointed to realize there was nothing new as far as the fate of Etta Place or even the main characters themselves. All the common rumors of their last days were reviewed but I could see nothing that was added to the historical record. All in all, I still enjoyed reading it, but in reality it seems to be impossible to find enough fact to give these books the historical meat need to be a satisfying read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Claws on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
How could this book be called anything but great, great entertainment by an author who writes brilliantly and knows his subject inside and out. Instead of being one of those stuffy scholarly trade history books, this narrative reads like a novel, and I felt like I was riding along the outlaw trail with Butch and Sundance. The award-winning 1969 movie told only half of the story, and skipped some of the most fascinating parts. This book chronicles those early days of the pair, and paints a vivid picture of how cowboys Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh came to be the outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And because Old West outlaws didn't leave diaries or journals and used aliases, Hatch boldly fills in the blanks of what is not known about these men--as well as the mysterious Etta Place--with thought-provoking plausible speculation. An added treat are back-stories and amusing anecdotes that puts everything in proper perspective and brings out the rich flavor of the Old West. If you're a fan of Western history or American history in general, this is a must read. Or if you just want a good book to read that will captivate your interest, give this one a try--you won't be disappointed.

As a retiree, I started this book on Tuesday and finished on Sunday and could hardly put it down because I got so "into it."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Williams on April 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great background/histrorical information comfortably woven into the story. Contradicts many of the articles and stories previously read. Very informative and entertaining book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott Yoder on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book. My understanding of western history is limited at best. This book gave me a sense of the west and times that these outlaws occupied. It familiarized me with the history while at the same time it was entertaining.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ashton on June 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thom Hatch in "The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", has produced a very readable and thorough view of the careers of two of the most famous outlaws of the American West. Hatch traces the lives of and influences on Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid) and it is not until half way through the book that the two actually get together. He explains, successfully if a little simplistically, the family, social and technological world that they grew up in and how the significant changes that were going on impacted Butch and The Kid.
Despite their fame, what is surprising is the lack of actual confirmed information about key events and characters in the story. The most striking is that of Etta Place, the companion of Sundance, who appears suddenly in their lives and disappears as suddenly when they are living in Argentina. Even with this limitation Hatch critically looks at events and stories relating to the two outlaws and does come down on some definitive positions, particularly on their eventual end when cornered in a remote Bolivian town. Although there were claims they were seen after this event, for him the most probable explanation is that they died at San Vicente with Butch killing first Sundance and then himself.
If you are unfamiliar with the actual lives (as distinct from the TV or movies lives) of these two criminals, the book is easy to read and packed full of interesting facts about the individuals and the world they lived in. Hatch has clearly drawn on a wide variety of sources and has brought those together into a coherent and engaging story.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Becky on February 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just finished the book and the author did no original research other than rehash of already published works. The author makes many simple errors that could have been avoided with a little research. He calls outlaw Will Carver, "News" Carver which comes from the 1969 Movie of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He names George Currie, "Big Nose" instead of his correct nickname of "Flat Nose". He names "Bub Meeks" as Wilbur Bob Meeks when his actual name was "Henry Rhodes Meeks, Jr." He also includes the killer Harry Tracy as part of the Wild Bunch when he had nothing to do with the gang.

The author is quick to critize other researchers such as Larry Pointer saying he has egg on his face for his mistakenly thinking William T. Phillips was Cassidy. Pointer should be commended for his contribution to the history of Butch Cassidy. He did original research interviewing many who are now gone that knew the outlaws in their day or had first had knowledge. Pointer is the one who discovered William T. Phillips true identity of William Wilcox and had the courage to admit he was wrong.

The author makes little of Butch's true best friend, Elzy Lay and makes Sundance a much larger figure than he really was. He says Sundance was known as the "fastest gun in the west" which is simply not true.

The author uses source information through endnotes, but lacks full sources of his information. Some claims made in the book are not tied to any sources. For example he says Butch was born on North Creek near Beaver, Utah but only gives his source for the early life of Butch as his sister Lula Parker Betenson, when she made no such claim for his birth location. Kerry Ross Boren is the only one who has claimed Butch was born on "North Creek". With the lacking source information, the book at times seems more than fiction than non-fiction.
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