A New York Times bestseller, Jeff Guinn’s definitive, myth-busting account of the most famous gunfight in American history reveals who Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons and McLaurys really were and what the shootout was all about.
On the afternoon of October 26, 1881, in a vacant lot in Tombstone, Arizona, a confrontation between eight armed men erupted in a deadly shootout. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral would shape how future generations came to view the Old West. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons became the stuff of legends, symbolic of a frontier populated by good guys in white hats and villains in black ones. It’s a colorful story—but the truth is even better.
Drawing on new material from private collections—including diaries, letters, and Wyatt Earp’s own hand-drawn sketch of the shootout’s conclusion—as well as archival research, Jeff Guinn gives us a startlingly different and far more fascinating picture of what actually happened that day in Tombstone and why
There are no black and white hats in this gripping revisionist account of the famed 1881 showdown. There are only mixed motives, murky schemes, and misguided hotheads. Historian Guinn (Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde) uncovers complex figures who straddle the line between outlaw and lawman: Wyatt Earp, he reveals, was an impetuous gambling impresario and possibly an ex-pimp whose unprovoked bullying helped spark the confrontation, while Doc Holliday was an unstable cardsharp prone to settling minor differences with gunplay. Guinn sets the story in a Tombstone, Ariz., that's a Wild West version of The Wire, complete with seething political intrigues what Earp was mainly gunning for was a post as county sheriff and its lucrative tax-collecting franchise and a cowboy culture synonymous with thuggery and deeply entrenched in a semilicit cattle-rustling economy. As Guinn's exhaustively researched, stylishly written narrative untangles the personal feuds and social pressures, he explodes many of the Manichaean myths surrounding the gunfight. He replaces them with something as grimly compelling as a Greek tragedy: a tale of proud men drawn almost against their will toward bloodshed. 16 pages of b&w photos; 2 maps.
Having been a late baby boomer (1956) the "wild west" is imbedded in my mind. This book filled in so many blanks. I've visited Tombstone and much of southern Arizona. I am a career law officer. I can relate to the desire of the Earps to serve and protect and truly understand how easy it is for public opinion to be swayed for or against you through mis steps, mis communication and mis understandings. In turn, I understand how the Clantons and McLaurys would feel "dumped on" by the Earps. How easy it is to allow "politics" to come into play and even exacerbate a touchy situation. Not to mention the testosterone. Occurrences such as these still play a part in our lives. We have learned from the mistakes and successes of all those who have made them before. If anything, the reader should take away a desire to not mimic the mistakes made that created the feud in Tombstone. Many innocent lives were effected. I feel sad for all of the families involved.
Thank you for filling in so many blanks. I was so "into" finishing and learning I could not put the book down. In a nut shell, riviting, enlightening, entertaining and educational
The Last Gunfight
I just finished reading the Mr. Guinn's recounting of the Gunfight at the OK Corral; as it is popularly known.
The book is really great. It clears up many myths of the Earp legend and does so in an exciting, fun to read style.
I have a number of college students who work for me and, It is sad to say, NONE of them has heard of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, or this famous gunfight!
I highly recommend this book to anyone. My next purchase will be Jeff Guinn's clarification of the Bonnie & Clyde crime spree.