Who was the Real Billy the Kid? Historian Richard W. Etulain Says It’s Complicated.

A headshot of author Richard Etulain smiling while wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a black mock neck

Sponsored by BYU Studies—Historian Richard W. Etulain is a specialist in history and literature of the American West, and the author of Thunder in the West: The Life and Legends of Billy the Kid (University of Oklahoma Press, 2020).

Etulain says Billy the Kid was a hero—and a villain.

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