Outlaws: A Quest for Butch and Sundance, by Eamonn O’Neill, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, Scotland (distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, Vt.), 1998, $29.95.
While on the trail of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the States, the inquisitive young author from Scotland found out what many Wild West aficionados had already learned–when seeking answers about the real Butch and Sundance, you mostly get a whole new set of questions. If you have read much about the Wild Bunch, you will find little new about the legendary outlaws here, but you’re still likely to enjoy being on the trail from Pennsylvania to Utah with Eamonn O’Neill, because of the writer’s different perspective on American outlaws and because of his breezy-but-not-blustery writing style. In a chapter called “Another Smiling Dog,” for instance, O’Neill writes: “In ones and twos Harvey Logan, Elzy Lay, the Sundance Kid and others arrived at Butch’s new place of work in New Mexico. He quietly made sure they all obtained employment….Butch, as usual, was one step ahead….Butch had his beady eye on a new, moving target–a train packed with money and other valuables. He planned to rob it at a remote location called Wilcox in Wyoming.” The book is part biography, part travelogue and part autobiography. The mix might not be for everyone, but it’s a good mix.