The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell
THE INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
"Tombstone is written in a distinctly American voice." —T.J. Stiles, The New York Times
“With a former newsman’s nose for the truth, Clavin has sifted the facts, myths, and lies to produce what might be as accurate an account as we will ever get of the old West’s most famous feud.” —Associated Press
The true story of the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, and the famous Battle at the OK Corral, by the New York Times bestselling author of Dodge City and Wild Bill.
On the afternoon of October 26, 1881, eight men clashed in what would be known as the most famous shootout in American frontier history. Thirty bullets were exchanged in thirty seconds, killing three men and wounding three others.
The fight sprang forth from a tense, hot summer. Cattle rustlers had been terrorizing the back country of Mexico and selling the livestock they stole to corrupt ranchers. The Mexican government built forts along the border to try to thwart American outlaws, while Arizona citizens became increasingly agitated. Rustlers, who became known as the cow-boys, began to kill each other as well as innocent citizens. That October, tensions boiled over with Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne confronting the Tombstone marshal, Virgil Earp, and the suddenly deputized Wyatt and Morgan Earp and shotgun-toting Doc Holliday.
Bestselling author Tom Clavin peers behind decades of legend surrounding the story of Tombstone to reveal the true story of the drama and violence that made it famous. Tombstone also digs deep into the vendetta ride that followed the tragic gunfight, when Wyatt and Warren Earp and Holliday went vigilante to track down the likes of Johnny Ringo, Curly Bill Brocius, and other cowboys who had cowardly gunned down his brothers. That "vendetta ride" would make the myth of Wyatt Earp complete and punctuate the struggle for power in the American frontier's last boom town.
The 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., was "the last gasp of violent lawlessness in a closing frontier," according to this scrupulous history. Journalist Clavin (coauthor, Valley Forge) details the origins of the boomtown's name (the prospector who filed the area's first silver claim had been told "the only stone you'll find out there is your tombstone") and the clash of mining, ranching, and civic interests that set the stage for the shootout. Lawmen Wyatt and Virgil Earp arrived in Tombstone in 1879 and were eventually joined by their younger brother Morgan and Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday. Tensions rose between the Earp clan and the McLaury and Clanton families, ranchers who supplied the town with beef by stealing cattle and squatting on public lands. An attempt by the Earps to uphold a recently passed gun ordinance sparked the firefight, which killed Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury and set off a chain of events including Virgil's maiming, Morgan's murder, and Wyatt and Doc's "vendetta ride" against the cowboys they held responsible. Clavin briskly sketches dozens of historical figures and gamely interrogates primary and secondary sources to separate fact from fiction. Though other histories, including Jeff Guinn's The Last Gunfight, have told the story more definitively, this animated account entertains.
This book reads like a 7th grader’s book report on the principals involved in the gunfight in Tombstone. Endless pages of uninteresting details on family histories, coupled with a plodding style that makes the reader long for good writing. As a book report, I would give it a C, but only because it is mercifully short.