I approached this book with a great deal of skepticism suspecting that it was probably another hoax and that William T. Phillips would most likely turn out to be just another J. Frank Dalton. But Phillips' story is a little different. After all, he never claimed to be Butch Cassidy, others simply claimed it for him and then only after he was dead and gone. So I was pleasantly surprised.
Not only did the author present some rather convincing evidence that Phillips was indeed Robert LeRoy Parker, alias George "Butch" Cassidy, but the book also turned out to be the most informative book which I have read on the inner workings of a true western outlaw gang. If one is not convinced that Phillips was Cassidy, one must surely conclude that he was at least a member of Cassidy's "Wild Bunch."
The most compelling evidence, in my view, is the following: 1) the opal ring which Phillips sent to Butch Cassidy's Wyoming sweetheart, Mary Boyd, shortly before his death (inscribed on the inside "Geo C to Mary B"); 2) Phillips' Colt Peacemaker with Butch Cassidy's brand carved in the handle, 3) the affirmative handwriting analysis comparing a letter known to have been written by Butch Cassidy with a later letter written by Phillips; and finally 4) Phillips' intimate knowledge of Butch Cassidy, his associates and the people he knew or worked with, the areas in which he lived and rode, and the robberies which he planned and carried out; all as expressed in his unpublished [autobiography?] "The Bandit Invincible, the Story of Butch Cassidy."
The most interesting thing to me about this book, however, is not whether or not William Phillips was, in fact, Butch Cassidy, it was the detailed descriptions of how Cassidy would plan and carry out his raids. I was also struck by the intimate details concerning the cattle wars in Wyoming and life as it really might have been in the old west. I only wish that Phillips hadn't used a fictitious name for the Sundance Kid in "Bandit Invincible" which was written in 1930. If, as he said, he changed the names of living persons so as not to incriminate them, one can only wonder why he changed Harry Longabaugh's name in his book and yet described the manner in which he died. That is a real puzzler.
The only thing I didn't like about this book was the way in which it skipped back and forth between Phillips' writings and information from the author's other sources, at the same time introducing lots of new people and information. This seemed to confuse the issue and break the continuity (ergo, 5 to 4 stars). All things considered, though, this is a truly remarkable story and a must read for anyone interested in the old west and its history.