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DIGGING UP BUTCH AND SUNDANCE by Anne Meadows

DIGGING UP BUTCH AND SUNDANCE

By Anne Meadows

Pub Date: June 21st, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10968-7
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

 A delightful dip into popular historical research as the author, a Washington, DC, lawyer and journalist, sets out to determine the real fate of legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did Butch and Sundance die in a shootout with the Bolivian army in a lonely Andean village in 1909? And if so, what happened to their bodies? As Meadows's husband and research companion, Dan Buck, puts it: ``We started out looking for the truth, but collecting the folk tales (was) just as much fun.'' They soon learned that sorting fact from fiction would require repeated trips to South America, including a few harrowing excursions into remote areas of Argentina, Chile, and the Bolivian Andes. Their research took them from the US National Archives to the library of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in New York City, and to newspaper offices, libraries, mining camps, and government agencies in several South American nations. While the paper trail yielded unexpected results, considering the number of popular researchers and hobbyists before them, it was more than matched by the oral history gleaned from descendants of the outlaws, soldiers, and local citizenry, some of whose parents knew Butch and Sundance during their ten years in the region. As if tracking down all of the aliases used by Butch and Sundance--and the occasional imposter--wasn't enough, Meadows and her husband also found evidence that one or both may have survived the famous shootout and used the incident to fake their own deaths. The trail finally leads to the site of the shootout, a cemetery near San Vicente, Bolivia, where they accompany forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow during his exhumation of a grave reputed to be the outlaws' final resting place. Fun and wonderfully suspenseful, both as a historical mystery and as a travelogue. (16 pages of photos and 16 maps, not seen)