Book review: 'Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave' looks for answers

By Connie Lewis

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 16 2013 2:00 p.m. MST

"BUTCH CASSIDY: Beyond the Grave," by W.C. Jameson, Taylor Trade Publishing, $22.95, 189 pages (nf)

Robert Leroy Parker, born in Beaver, Beaver County, was the firstborn of his parents, who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To get by, the family used hard work and determination on their homestead near Circleville, Piute County. Fun-loving young Robert had a passion for horses and delighted in playing with his younger siblings, but he did not enjoy the menial labor of working on the family ranch.

Influenced by tales of Mike Cassidy, a purported outlaw he befriended, Parker left home to seek a more exciting life when he was 18. Eventually he would adopt the name of Butch Cassidy.

The rest is history.

The name "Butch Cassidy" became synonymous throughout the West for his bank and train robberies.

“Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave” by W.C. Jameson examines Butch Cassidy’s life and outlaw career. The main focus of the book is to examine whether Cassidy died in Bolivia, as is usually accepted, or if he returned to the United States and lived out his years under a new alias.

As an outlaw Butch Cassidy had standards beyond his contemporaries. He hated violence and would chastise members of his gang for excessive use of force, the book says. He robbed from men he considered corrupted by too much power or wealth and was generous and friendly to people having a hard time. As Jameson writes, “When acquaintances and contemporaries of Cassidy were asked to describe him, mostly they offered adjectives such as intelligent, generous, pleasant, outgoing, friendly, happy-go-lucky, charming, boyish, well mannered, and polite, as well as having a fine sense of humor.”

The book is meticulously researched and the author’s love of the subject matter comes through clearly. Reading “Butch Cassidy Beyond the Grave” is like reading a really good mystery. Jameson presents the facts on both sides of the controversy, and lets the reader follow along and draw conclusions of their own.

Jameson is an award-winning author of historical biographies, articles and essays, as well as fiction. He is also a professional treasure hunter and has appeared in shows on the History Channel, The Discovery Channel and "Nightline," among others. He lives in Llano, Texas.

“Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave” doesn't contain any offensive language, but the author does discuss alcohol use and prostitution.

After attending BYU and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new.

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