William Kip Stratton – friends call him by his middle name – is the Los Angeles Times bestselling author of The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film and eight other books. He was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, but has lived much of his life in Texas. Both his mother’s and father’s families had deep roots in the West. His mother’s family homesteaded outside Guthrie during the Great Land Run of 1889. His father was a rodeo cowboy from Denver’s skid row as well as a runaway dad.He became the subject of Stratton’s book, Chasing the Rodeo.
Stratton put himself through what’s now known as the University of Central Oklahoma while working as a newspaper reporter, taking a degree in English with honors. He later received a Master’s degree in English from the same school, submitting a novel for his thesis.While in college, he studied fiction writing under the popular novelist Marilyn Harris (Springer). He also had the opportunity to participate in seminars and workshops by the likes of James Dickey, William Stafford, Donald Hall, and N. Scott Momaday.
Stratton has worked as a newspaper journalist (Tulsa World) and a high tech manager to support his writing career. He has maintained a long freelance association with the Dallas Morning News. In addition, he has been published in such magazines as Texas Monthly, GQ, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Mayborn,Southern Magazine, and Texas Observer. (He won the 2016 Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award for his Texas Monthly essay, “My Brother’s Secret.”)
His first book, Backyard Brawl, appeared in 2002. Chasing the Rodeo followed in 2005, as did a book he edited with his longtime friend Jan Reid, Splendor in the Short Grass. That year he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.
In middle age, Stratton began training as a boxer. This brought him into contact with prizefighters, promoters, and managers. One person he befriended was two-time female boxing champion Anissa Zamarron. In 2009, he published his book about her rise from a troubled adolescence to prominence in women’s boxing, Boxing Shadows. In 2011, his book of poetry, Dreaming Sam Peckinpah, was published to acclaim. That same year, he was a speaker at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Also in 2012, Stratton was elected President of the Texas Institute of Letters.In 2015, he published Ranchero Ford/Dying in Red Dirt Country, his second volume of poetry; Colo—State—Pen:18456 appeared in 2018. He lives in suburban Austin, Texas.
About The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film
Sam Peckinpah’s film The Wild Bunch is the story of a gang of outlaws who are one big steal from retirement. When their attempted train robbery goes awry, the gang flees to Mexico and falls in with a brutal general of the Mexican Revolution, who offers them the job of a lifetime. Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.
In The Wild Bunch, W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie’s success. Shaped by infamous director Sam Peckinpah, and starring such visionary actors as William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edmond O’Brien, and Robert Ryan, the movie was also the product of an industry and a nation in transition. By 1968, when the movie was filmed, the studio system that had perpetuated the myth of the valiant cowboy in movies like The Searchers had collapsed, and America was riled by Vietnam, race riots, and assassinations. The Wild Bunch spoke to America in its moment, when war and senseless violence seemed to define both domestic and international life.
The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.