Book Reviews

Butch Cassidy, My Uncle

(High Plains Press, $19.95)

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For some time Bill Betenson has been promising an update to his great-grandmother’s book, Butch Cassidy, My Brother. This book, Butch Cassidy, My Uncle, combines family information on the outlaw with a wider range of material.

Sources that were inaccessible in the 1970s, such as now-digitized newspapers, courthouse and archival material, have been used to produce a richer and better rounded narrative of Cassidy’s life, even if there is little groundbreaking information here. The author does offer up new primary research, but his reliance on some sources would have benefited from checking against primary material. For example, the letters of William Simpson to Charles Kelly are at odds with court and tax records. More critical analysis of material would also have been helpful. To take one chapter at random, “Surrender,” much more information is now available online, including a ferocious debunking of the story by contemporaries. The book does not offer any new information on Cassidy’s alleged return to the United States, but some of the evidence for both the “Butch Returned” and “Butch Died” arguments is presented. Betenson supports the former thesis. This book will not resolve that debate, but it should be read by all who have an interest in Cassidy’s life and an open mind regarding his death. This book is a useful synopsis of the outlaw’s life, but the informed reader will want more.

 

—Mike Bell, author of Incidents of Owl Creek: Butch Cassidy’s Big Horn Basin Bunch

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