The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

ten describe the establishment of an ever-growing list of newspapers
during the period of the Republic, including the famous and durable
Houston Telegraph and Texas Register and the Galveston News. The
final third of the text covers the journals and editors of the statehood
period, down to the state's secession from the Union in 1861. Par-
ticularly interesting is the chapter entitled "The Mystic Red," which
recounts the editorial hysteria created by the infamous "Texas fires"
of 186o. A seventy-seven-page index lists the 347 known newspapers
of the antebellum period with important details on each (e.g., pub-
lisher-editor, dates of publication, location of extant copies).
Some readers may complain that most of the chapters bog down in
too much detail about who published which paper on what dates and
who succeeded whom as editor of long-forgotten journals. But Sib-
ley's meticulous and exhaustive research, her excellent first chapter,
and the useful appendix make this a valuable addition to Texas
North Texas State University RICHARD LOWE
Inventing Billy the Kid: Visions of the Outlaw in America, 188z-z98z.
By Stephen Tatum. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico
Press, 1982. Pp. xi+242. Preface, illustrations, notes, bibliogra-
phy, index. $19.95.)
In Inventing Billy the Kid Stephen Tatum has done a fine job of
celebrating the Kid's centennial by producing the first extensive study
of the Kid's cultural meanings. Trained in literary analysis, Tatum is
not a historian, so thankfully his is not another book purporting to
separate history from myth, or to tell once and for all the true story
of the "real Kid." Tatum argues that such a task is impossible any-
way, and demonstrates how in each successive decade, biographies,
novels, plays, poems, movies, even ballets, have revealed as much
about their own eras as they have about the Kid himself.
The Kid is an eternal mystery, Tatum asserts, a figure always wait-
ing to be reinvented by each generation. Tatum divides the span of
various meanings associated with the Kid into three phases: (1) 1881-
1925-the Kid as villain in a romance plot that dramatized the strug-
gle between savagery (the Kid, Indians, the wilderness) and civiliza-
tion (Pat Garrett, democracy, schoolmarms); (2) 1925-1955-the Kid
as romantic outsider or populist, a protector of common people, an


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 27, 2015.