Tombstone by Odie Faulk: a review

Faulk’s is an effort to write a portrait of Tombstone more or less as if the Earps and Clantons hadn’t existed. He was quite successful at that. The book is full of interesting details about the prospectors who first located the mines, and covers the basic details of town development adequately. I’d, personally, have liked to see more information about the mining companies’ operations, but perhaps that is just me. The sudden decline of the town and subsequent events are covered very well.

One chapter is devoted to the gunfight, its context, and its aftermath. Faulk basically wishes a plague on all the participants; all are, in his view, pretty bad characters and it’s best that they mostly abandoned the town after the shootout. Some of his facts differ from the currently accepted narrative–likely because four subsequent decades of research have clarified some specifics–but on the whole his portrayal of the event rings true.

The last chapter, which is essentially a complaint about the way myth has displaced fact in the Tombstone narrative, is heartfelt but probably beside the point.

This review was originally published on LibraryThing.

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