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Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave (edition 2012)

by W.C. Jameson

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2814389,858 (3.29)14
Member:maggie1944
Title:Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave
Authors:W.C. Jameson
Info:Taylor Trade Publishing (2012), Hardcover, 200 pages
Collections:Early Reviewers books
Rating:****
Tags:Early Reviewers, biography, American history, Western U.S. history

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Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave by W. C. Jameson

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Well researched biography of Butch Cassidy. W.C. Jameson covers what is well known and excepted facts about Cassidy's life as well as theories surrounding Cassidy's death in Bolivia in 1908. A great read.
  cweller | Mar 6, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. W. C. Jameson has written a biography of Butch Cassidy as well as an argument than it is likely Cassidy did not die in a gunfight in Bolivia in 1908 as is popularly believed.

The first half of the book is dedicated to Cassidy's rise to infamy as a horse and cattle thief and successful robber of banks and trains. Jameson goes out of his way to assure the reader that Cassidy was a kind and thoughtful bandit, more a Robin Hood than a Billy the Kid. While I found the history here interesting, I was often troubled by how often the author seemed to be reading Cassidy's mind, telling us often about how Butch felt about various events and moments of his life. It is never clear where this information comes from. Assumedly, this is from the manuscript The Bandit Invincible, discussed in a bit, but again, it isn't clear how the author 'knows' Cassidy's mind.

Some of the narrative moves decently, but too often, the text jumps around, giving us names and histories of people we only meet once in the book and who have no part to play in the greater narrative. Also, there are disjointed moments where the author describes in detail how a secondary character in the narrative meets his end before jumping back into several chapters which include that character. It leaves the flow feeling very jagged and in need of a kind hand of an editor.

The second part of the book deals with theories surrounding Cassidy's fate in Bolivia and after. What worries me most about this section, and the author's thesis that Butch lived in the US until the 1930s is that he seems to depend strongly on the aforementioned The Bandit Invincible, a manuscript written by a man named William T. Phillips.

One popular 'Cassidy survived' theory holds that Phillips was really Cassidy. The manuscript is a biography of Butch and includes a lot of details only Cassidy or someone close to him would have known. Jameson uses this script, and the controversial testimonies of friends of Cassidy to draw a strong link to Phillips. While the author assures us the weight of the evidence is not in, he clearly leads the reader toward the Phillips-is-Cassidy theory.

I feel there was a significant downplaying of the evidence against Phillips being Cassidy. Several Cassidy experts have determined it is much more likely that Phillips was William T. Wilcox, a man who ran with Cassidy and who would have known many of the inner secrets of the man. The Bandit script includes details which appear to match Wilcox, rather than Cassidy.

Not a bad read for the time, certainly information here is interesting to those of us who knew little of the Cassidy story. However, the author relies far too often on the work of other researchers to tell his story, presents a jagged narrative in need of polish, and depends a bit too much on the Phillips-is-Cassidy angle for my taste. ( )
  IslandDave | Feb 22, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you follow my blog, you know I read some quirky books now and then. My interests are so eclectic that you just never know what will appeal to me. This one I can't really explain very easily though. I was a huge fan of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, yet I've never seen the movie where they starred as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Still, I am interested in outlaws of the Old West and wanted to know more about their real story.

The author of this little book is one of many people who have researched Butch Cassidy's real life story and tried to figure out whether he was killed in Bolivia or made it back to the U.S. and lived to be an old man in the State of Washington under the alias William T. Phillips.

There are photographs in the book and although they didn't look at all like Newman and Redford, it was fascinating to see the real men. Their wives, legal or common law, are pictured too. There are also facts about his early life. He was born Leroy Parker, Jr. and used many aliases during his outlaw life. He loved children. People found him charming and anyone who got to know him loved him. He never robbed an employer, no matter how easy it would have been.

If you're looking for definitive answers, though, you'll be disappointed. This book presents the different theories and the "proof" behind them. I'm a born researcher so this really caught my interest. I'm almost convinced that the two men killed in Bolivia were misidentified, and that Cassidy did live in the U.S. until he died between 1937 and 1941. However, I'm not totally convinced and neither are most people who have looked into it. Guess it's one of those mysteries that will never be solved. I think Cassidy would get a kick out of that; he had a great sense of humor.

Source: Win from LibraryThing
Recommended reading ( )
  bjmitch | Jan 1, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
W. C. Jameson takes on the legends of Butch Cassidy and attempts to refute some of them, particularly the notion that Butch & Sundance were killed in San Vincente, Bolivia in 1908. The part of the book that is the known history of Butch Cassidy's life is very fascinating. But, as happens frequently when a legend is being refuted, it's hard to separate out the real truth, especially so much later. Jameson makes a compelling case for the most part, but there is an awful lot of "Butch wouldn't have done that," and frankly, I don't think we can make statements of fact based on one person's opinion of what they would or wouldn't do. I believe he is probably correct in his hypothesis; I just wish there had been more solid evidence. Still, an interesting story. ( )
  tloeffler | Dec 25, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mr. W.C. Jameson is a professional treasure hunter (!) and I imagine he likes to hunt for buried gold in the old west. He also writes a lot about the old west. He undertook to reexamine the history of Butch Cassidy because there have been persistent rumors that Butch did not die in S. America and that he returned to the USA and lived out a long life as a law abiding citizen.

The book begins and impressed me as being dry history and I was a little tired of traditional history after having just finished Team of Rivals however, as was true of Doris Kearns Goodwin's work, so too this author has good reason to write in a careful, well documented manner. As he explains the histories of the lawbreakers and the lawmen of the old west is choc-a-block full of "popular history"; hobbists writing for pulp magazines; and even motion pictures dramatizing stories which would be best seen as pure fiction.

If you have not seen the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - do so! It is a fun romp. But be forewarned it is not true history.

This book follows the story of Butch Cassidy, and The Wild Bunch, and the Sundance Kid through years of cattle rustling, horse stealing, bank robbing and train robberies, too. The author makes a good case that many of the "hold-ups" of the time were blamed on The Wild Bunch even when they were no where nearby. It is a very believable accounting of what it must have been like in the late nineteenth century, and the early twentieth century, in the west of the USA and the ranching lands in S. America.

In the end, I was speeding my way through the last pages as Mr. Jameson builds a very careful, and honest, case for supporting the hypothesis that Butch Cassidy lived out his life in Spokane, Washington, and died sometime after 1935.

If any of this tweaks your curiosity, read the book. It was a good one! ( )
6 vote maggie1944 | Dec 16, 2012 |
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W. C. Jamesonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wallis, Piper F.Jacket Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The noted American outlaw who came to be known as Butch Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker on April 13, 1866, in Beaver, Utah.
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This well-researched biography of the life- and controversial death- of Robert LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, is a journey across the late nineteenth American West as we follow Cassidy's exploits in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, where he made his name as a surprisingly affable outlaw. More importantly, this book answers the following question: did Butch Cassidy, noted outlaw of the American West, survive his alleged death at the hands of Bolivian soldiers in 1908 and return to friends and family in the United States? The evidence suggesting he did is impressive and not easily dismissed, but how he lived and which identity he assumed are still being debated.… (more)

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