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Best Book On Ok Corral

author
Bob Roberts
• Tuesday, 19 January, 2021
• 15 min read

When my wife and I drove into Tombstone a few years back, the first thing that struck me was its verisimilitude. (To be fair to the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, we arrived at the end of the season.

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Contents

When my wife and I drove into Tombstone a few years back, the first thing that struck me was its verisimilitude. (To be fair to the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, we arrived at the end of the season.

My wife and I wandered the desolate sidewalks for a while, poking our heads into various establishments offering Old Time Photographs for extraordinary prices. Finally, we ended up eating at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, named after Doc Holiday’s erstwhile lover and traveling companion.

I venture a guess that if the gunfight took place at Kjellfrid Dauphin’s Corral, we might all have forgotten about it long ago. Jeff Quinn’s The Last Gunfight is a densely-detailed, serious-minded, 300-plus page account of a fleeting scrap of western lore.

The subtitle (no doubt the fault of some dastardly copy editor) proclaims the Corral as the gunfight that “changed the American West.” To Quinn’s credit, at no point does he attempt to prove that ridiculous claim. By 1881, the year the gunfight occurred, there wasn’t a lot of time left for the American West.

This is the kind of book that unabashedly opens with a chapter called “the West,” and then brazenly attempts to distill its history into less than 20 pages. This is also the kind of book where the build-up to the bloodbath is agonizingly drawn, freighted with repeat references to tumbling dominoes.

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He is obviously fascinated by it, down to the smallest bits of minutiae, and he takes apparent joy in sharing every last scrap of his research. Far be it from me to begrudge a man his obsessions (I said, while planning yet another trip to the Little Big Horn battlefield).

Tombstone, the booming center of a silver rush, with pretensions to be an arid San Francisco. Wyatt Earp, the “famed” lawman from Dodge, fresh arrived with brothers Morgan and Virgil (and their prostitute common law wives).

The Cowboys, a gang of rustlers that included quick-draw artist Johnny Ringo, enigmatic Curly Bill Gropius, and preposterous bumbler Ike Clinton. Nipping at the edges of this circus was suave little Johnny Behan, the county sheriff.

In common telling, the Earp's are the white hats and the Cowboys are the black hats; the Earp's represented law and order and civilization, while the Cowboys held to the lawless, violent past. Of course, it’s all speculation, since no one really knows what happened with any certainty (the chief survivor, Wyatt himself, grew into an inveterate liar).

Wyatt, who had never been in a face-to-face gunfight himself but was at least the veteran of actual shooting scrapes in Kansas, cocked and extracted his pistol in one fluid motion. Unfortunately, and most likely due to a dearth of credible sources, Quinn doesn’t devote a lot of space to these episodes.

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Instead, the bulk of the post- Corral material is made up of the Inquest into the deaths of Billy Clinton and Tom and Frank Mary, who died at the hands of the Earp's and Doc Holiday. This section if probably the best of the book, combining an interesting primer on Territorial law with a lot of first-person testimony regarding the Earp/Clinton feud.

Having grown up in the West, fed on a solid diet of Gun smoke, John Wayne, guns, etc., the Gunfight at the O.K. Not to mention that five years after the shooting in Tombstone, AZ my paternal grandmother's maternal grandfather's maternal grandfather was shot and killed by (depending on the story and myth) either cattle rustlers he had cornered, or remnants of Butch Cassidy's gang who wanted to see if they could put a hole through a Mormon (you know, protective Mormon underwear).

Grandfather was shot and killed, leaving behind four wives (Sarah, Lucy, Catherine, and Elizabeth). Timberline was headed by J.R. Wolsey (my 4th great-grandfather and the husband of James Hale's first wife Sarah).

I even lived for a while in Glenwood Springs, Colorado just a couple streets over from where Doc Holiday died, not from gunshot wounds, but TB. Anyway, these stories of gunfights, cowboys, prostitutes, miners, rustlers, and dirty né'er-do-wells have floated around me for years like mythical touches vol antes, so I love Quinn's attempt to separate the blood from the smoke, the men from the lore.

There is no way to put the gun fighting genies of the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday back in the historical bottle. Their stories have woven themselves into the bull shitty fabric of Arizona, the West, and America too deeply.

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The reality is there, and Jeff Quinn has uncovered a lot of it, but there is no real competition with Hollywood and our own desperate fable-making abilities. It does so by giving the abbreviated histories of nearly everybody involved in the legendary Tombstone gunfight.

The “blood and thunder” hyperbole that was common in books written about the frontier characters was foundational in the massive amount of “cowboy” movies and TV shows that peaked in the 1950s. The “blood and thunder” hyperbole that was common in books written about the frontier characters was foundational in the massive amount of “cowboy” movies and TV shows that peaked in the 1950s.

Matt Dillon, the main character in Gun smoke was actually a characterization of Wyatt Earp. The movie Tombstone is one of my all-time favorites and to show Ike Clinton begging the “lawmen” not to shoot because he was unarmed is actually what happened.

Johnny Ringo really was a notorious cowboy who got in an argument with Doc Holiday, but now I know how he really died. I know this is THE most often overused phrase in nonfiction but the facts surrounding the events in Tombstone in and around 1880 are far more interesting than fiction.

BTW I don't think they could have picked a better man to portray Wyatt Earp than Kurt Russell and Doc really did use the term, “you're a daisy if you do”. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday will remain among my list of heroes forever.

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Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday will remain among my list of heroes forever. This book reminded me of the line from the John Wayne movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Through a lot of research, he worked to trace back the beginnings of the “Gunfight at the Corral.” This book reminded me of the line from the John Wayne movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Through a lot of research, he worked to trace back the beginnings of the “Gunfight at the Corral.” It's just that in unraveling the knotted threads of the tapestry that is the story of the gunfight, the picture just wasn't as interesting when he wove it back together.

Over the years, the story has been written primarily to create action, adventure and suspense. While Quinn did his best to make things as accurate as possible, it seems like he ran into trouble because all of his sources tended to disagree on a lot of points.

Corral that I have read (that honor may belong to Paula Mitchell Marks' To Die in the West), but it is a very balanced, very readable, very historically conscientious account of what happened to the best of anybody's ability to tell. Quinn also does a great job of explaining the AFTERMATH of the gunfight, the inquest, and the hearing, and how it came about that the Earp's (Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan) and Doc Holiday WEREN'T prosecuted for murder.

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And his last chapter is a thoughtful exploration of how the event---a shoot-out in a vacant lot where both sides were wrong and both sides lied about it afterwards---turned into the epitome of Good defeating Evil as it plays out in the “Wild West” of our collective (white) American imagination. This was one of my thrift shop finds, and was a very good one. Mr Quinn tells a very deep and in my opinion very detailed look at the infamous fight at the o k corral in Tombstone Arizona. If you are a fan of the old west and all the life-size people involved in the not so pleasant times check out this book you will be surprised what you learn.

I hate to give it a poor rating because I'm sure it's a good book full of interesting information. I hate to give it a poor rating because I'm sure it's a good book full of interesting information.

I realized that I actually don’t care about what happened that fateful day in the Corral. This caught my eye the last time I swung through the library because I really didn’t know the story of the Shootout at the O.K.

Ms. Russell traced his childhood, young adulthood and the course of his tuberculosis and alcoholism, and questioned whether Doc Holiday wasn’t motivated by friendship and self-preservation far more than ill This caught my eye the last time I swung through the library because I really didn’t know the story of the Shootout at the O.K. Ms. Russell traced his childhood, young adulthood and the course of his tuberculosis and alcoholism, and questioned whether Doc Holiday wasn’t motivated by friendship and self-preservation far more than ill-tempered malice.

The sole exception is the “difficult” (a familiar caricature) Josephine, who took up with Wyatt Earp in a tempestuous relationship after he left Tombstone. I found the extensive discussion of the legal repercussions of the shootout fascinating (I would) and the post-history engaging.

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Quinn traces how Wyatt Earp emerged as a kind of hero post-Tombstone, the “source” for many a cowboy story and movie. The Earp's appear to be one of those subjects on which there's still a lot of controversy, but I don't think this book adds anything to the story.

Each of the more popular titles dealing with the shootout, or Wyatt and the Earp's, and of course Doc Holiday, claims to be the end all be all of up to date research...and in the end where you fall really depends on your ability to incorporate new facts and info into your views despite any biases you may harbor.and just how far you're willing to go to verify ti've read about everything there is to offer on this particular subject....and I found this to be both informative and very entertaining. Each of the more popular titles dealing with the shootout, or Wyatt and the Earp's, and of course Doc Holiday, claims to be the end all be all of up to date research...and in the end where you fall really depends on your ability to incorporate new facts and info into your views despite any biases you may harbor.and just how far you're willing to go to verify the facts presented to you in each study.

This book gives what I feel is a very balanced account of the individuals, their motivations, and subsequent actions in and around tombstone, AZ in the late 1800s. We will never know the WHOLE story...but I feel this book goes a long way towards presenting as good a picture as is possible at this point.

Well researched book on Tombstone, the Earp's, Cantons, and the infamous gunfight. Quinn dispels many inaccuracies and myths, and does a great job of describing Tombstone of the time.

Quinn does an excellent job writing about the court trials, vendetta shootings, and life of the surviving participants including how the event and town have become somewhat mythologized in our culture. The author also does Well research book on Tombstone, the Earp's, Cantons, and the infamous gunfight.

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Quinn dispels many inaccuracies and myths, and does a great job of describing Tombstone of the time. Quinn does an excellent job writing about the court trials, vendetta shootings, and life of the surviving participants including how the event and town have become somewhat mythologized in our culture.

The author also does a great job of describing the complex circumstances that led to that fateful day. As a student of the “Old West” it was a pleasure to read a thoroughly researched work that debunked the myth of the heroic gun battle at the OK corral, which Professor Quinn correctly explains never took place at that location.

He gave a fair description of the times and participants on both sides of the infamous feud between the Earp's and the Cowboys. I also enjoyed the background material and his explicit descriptions of the silver strike As a student of the “Old West” it was a pleasure to read a thoroughly researched work that debunked the myth of the heroic gun battle at the OK corral, which Professor Quinn correctly explains never took place at that location.

He gave a fair description of the times and participants on both sides of the infamous feud between the Earp's and the Cowboys. I also enjoyed the background material and his explicit descriptions of the silver strike in southern Arizona and the resulting short-lived boomtown. I would recommend this to all “fans” of western history and folklore.

The book does an excellent job of explaining the history of those involved, and the events leading up to the famous gunfight. The book does an excellent job of explaining the history of those involved, and the events leading up to the famous gunfight.

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Good read that separates Hollywood from reality as to what happened in Tombstone in 1881, and the aftermath. My discovery of The Last Gunfight coincided with planning a trip to Arizona/New Mexico that would include a day exploring Tombstone.

I've seen the movies (knowing that the movie Tombstone is not as accurate as it could be does nothing to dampen its appeal, it is a favorite of ours) and heard the stories, but I wanted to find a book that purported to tell a more accurate story of the events in Tombstone. Visiting the real town was sure to be a shock, so ingrained is the legend of it in our cultural discovery of The Last Gunfight coincided with planning a trip to Arizona/New Mexico that would include a day exploring Tombstone.

I've seen the movies (knowing that the movie Tombstone is not as accurate as it could be does nothing to dampen its appeal, it is a favorite of ours) and heard the stories, but I wanted to find a book that purported to tell a more accurate story of the events in Tombstone. Visiting the real town was sure to be a shock, so ingrained is the legend of it in our culture. Guinn's book may be named for the infamous gunfight, but the story he tells is so much bigger than that one day in history.

The events that culminated in the shootout included a large cast of characters, and Quinn follows each of them from their early lives through their time in Tombstone. The Earp's and their wives, Doc Holiday and his companion Kate, Josephine Marcus, the Clauses, the Cantons, Curly Bill, John Ringo, Johnny Behan, John Club, and more are brought to life in the pages of this book.

The Last Gunfight is painstakingly researched to bring an accurate depiction of the people who played a part in a tumultuous time in Wild West history, and to describe the times and places in which they lived. The build up to what was obviously an unavoidable conflict helps the reader understand just why that was so, and what could possibly have prevented it.

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Quinn is able to create quite a bit of tension leading up to the main event, despite the fact that the outcome is already known. He unmasks the men behind the legends, and I find them every bit as interesting as the heroic personas invented from them for the big screen, perhaps more so for their complicated motives and real life problems.

We spent a day there recently, and honestly we could have stayed longer if we hadn't had a schedule to keep. The courthouse museum that one reviewer described as creepy was fascinating to us, though the docent was quick to point out that Wyatt Earp is not what they want to be known for, nor was he a good man.

We walked the streets, now asphalt rather than dirt, and speckled with cars, and still felt an affinity for the past. The Good Enough Mine Tour is a fascinating return to the underground discoveries that truly built Tombstone, and the tour guide there was filled with historical facts about the lives of the miners and the backbreaking work they performed.

The graveyard, filled with familiar names, is well-kept and its population is diverse, from lawmen to outlaws to prominent businessmen, including leaders within the Chinese population such as China Mary and Along GU See. After reading The Last Gunfight and visiting the town of Tombstone, still a popular stop for tourists and with a small but fiercely proud population keeping history alive, I have a new respect for both its mining history and the part it played in civilizing the West.

The mines may have flooded out, but the original strike encouraged other more profitable prospecting in nearby areas such as Bis bee. The stage coach robberies, bloodshed, and corruption caused by the presence of the “Cowboys” gang ushered in an era of stronger governance and better use of the courts of law versus violence in the streets to put a stop to criminal exploits.

And certainly its infamy keeps the town alive through tourism, which now affords visitors a look back at the region's checkered past. This book includes a section of pictures, with captions, a detailed list of sources and why they are important, extensive footnotes, and a thorough index.

It is an extremely well researched book about, not just the gunfight, but about the history of the Earp's, the Cantons, the Arizona territory and the township of Tombstone. Truth is frequently the first casualty of symbolism and legend; however, despite its clear overwrought, romantic view of the times, the movie “I bought this book in Tombstone after it was recommended to me by Joe Giles.

It is an extremely well researched book about, not just the gunfight, but about the history of the Earp's, the Cantons, the Arizona territory and the township of Tombstone. Truth is frequently the first casualty of symbolism and legend; however, despite its clear overwrought, romantic view of the times, the movie “Tombstone” will always be one of my very favorite films.

3.5 Starlets of background information here, but I still can’t figure out why this blip of an incident looms so large, or why, of all the Earp brothers, Wyatt is the name most remembered (other than he was wonderful at promoting his own legend) Mr. Quinn doesn’t join the hero worship of the Earp broth­ers, but tries to tell the story through facts and research.

The author paints a pic­ture of a rough life where jus­tice was swift and a mur­der charge would most likely be overturned if the vic­tim has been heard walk­ing around town threat­en­ing you or your fam­ily. Spend­ing time on the back­ground of indi­vid­u­als, social impli­ca­tions and his­tory the famous gun­fight doesn’t seem any­more as the embod­i­ment of good vs. bad, but more than a result of local culture, mis­di­rected pride and ambition.

For the rest of his life Wyatt stayed with the busi­nesses he knew, prospect­ing, bars and whore houses (which didn’t impact his long mar­riage to Josephine). “The real story of Tombstone, and of the American West, is far more complex than a cartoonish confrontation between good guys and bad guys.” (pg.

19) Quinn masterfully delves into the complexities and connects the dots. Guinn focuses on the Earp's, the shootout at the Corral is the stuff legends are made of. “The real story of Tombstone, and of the American West, is far more complex than a cartoonish confrontation between good guys and bad guys.” (pg.

19) Quinn masterfully delves into the complexities and connects the dots. Guinn focuses on the Earp's, particularly Wyatt. For an ambitious man like Wyatt, who was intent on gaining the favor of community leaders then and later, Doc Holiday was the worst possible friend to have, one who would disgust the same people Wyatt wanted to badly to impress.” (pg.

In order to advance his career and standing Wyatt would strike deals that directly led to the shootout. I am huge history lover, but I’ve never had much of an interest in tales like the Earp’s or the Hatfield and McCoy's. I resisted Mary Doris Russell’s Doc for a very long time, finally gave in, and I loved it.

“Much of history results from apparently unrelated dominoes tumbling one over another.” (pg 130). The reader follows the legal proceedings where the Earp's and Doc Holiday faced serious charges and the Vendetta Ride. In addition to the context of the gunfight there are some interesting historical tidbits on Tombstone and the origin of its name, a look into the business model of silver mines, a look at the justice system which was inept and easily abused, Wells Fargo’s role in the events at Tombstone, and the evolution of the term “cowboy,” which began as a slur.

But, in movies the words was used first to describe hardworking ranch hands and then, generically, those who rode horses, toted six-guns, and when necessary (and it always became necessary) fought to uphold justice at the risk of their own lives. So far as his growing legion of fans was concerned, Wyatt Earp was a cowboy in the new, best sense of the word.” (pg 335). I’ve read some criticism that the book started slow because of the foundation Quinn laid, but I rather enjoyed that aspect and appreciated how it impacted the events that would make the town legendary.

I did wish Quinn would have provided more information on Doc Holiday and more context on why Kate didn’t like Wyatt. I thought this was a good introductory book for anyone new to the era or interested in the history of the events.

In real life, of course, it is not so simple. Take, for example, a brief exchange of gunfire in an abandoned lot in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. Who hasn’t heard of it? It has come down to us as an epic battle between good, symbolized by Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holiday, and evil, represented by Ike Clinton and his “gang”.

CORRAL -AND HOW IT CHANGED THE AMERICAN WEST explains, however, that the fight was almost inadvertent, based on a history of politics and personal feuds. Technically, the Cantons were not so much a “gang” as a part of a loose-knit group involved in castle rustling colloquially referred to as “cowboys”.

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5 www.democraticunderground.com - https://www.democraticunderground.com/100214251898
6 www.thedodo.com - https://www.thedodo.com/on-the-farm/dr-drip-racehorse-neglect-dead