Archive for the tag 'tombstone'

The Last Gunfight by Jeff Guinn: a review

Which brings us back to Jeff Guinn’s The Last Gunfight. If you’re seeking an adequate overview of the events which caused and followed from the Tombstone gunfight, this book should meet your need. Guinn sticks mostly to the facts, and takes pains to show where, and often why, interpretations differ. While his unsympathetic portrayal of Wyatt Earp will offend some readers, there’s no principal character this book flatters. In this telling Virgil Earp’s nearly the only good actor, though Guinn shows unusual empathy to John Behan’s difficult situation.

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Doc Holliday by Karen Holliday Tanner: a short review

Covers pretty much the same territory as Gary Roberts’ book on Holliday, but not as well, and this book is nowhere near so balanced. Prose is, at best, workmanlike.

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Inventing Wyatt Earp by Allen Barra: a review

Allen Barra examines the evidence, and concludes that the real Wyatt Earp resembled the mythical Wyatt Earp. This book is, in essence, an argument against Frank Waters and his “revisionist” successors (I really dislike that term; it distorts how real historians work). This unsurprising conclusion is well-told, but the book’s a little digressive and chatty. And, as noted in one of the other LT reviews, the copyediting leaves a lot to be desired, though I wouldn’t go so far as reporting errors in “every paragraph.” Perhaps the new publisher cleaned things up with this edition.

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Tombstone by Odie Faulk: a review

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.

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Boom Town

John Clum, Wyatt & Sadie/Josie Earp, George Parsons, Nellie Cashman–all lived in Tombstone in 1881, all lived long lives, and all spent many years in mining camps in many places. This short paragraph expresses an important force in all those lives, and in the lives of many less heralded folks who mined, or lived near mines. To all appearances, everyone on this list would have lived pretty much the same life with or without the savage gunfight which appears to define the Tombstone story.

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A Context for Tombstone

Where, Exactly, is Tombstone?

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Wyatt moves to Tombstone

Already in 1881 the Tombstone tale was known to be so bizarre that it generated preposterous coverage, and distance from the events hasn’t improved the situation. The “primary” sources are biased, contradictory, and sometimes just wrong. So are many of the websites, and much of the printed material. Some sources which seem to be reliable are largely fiction.

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