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The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral-And How It Changed the American Westby Jeff Guinn
Synopses & Reviews
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 shaped how future generations came to view the old West. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons became the stuff of legends, symbolic of a West populated by good guys in white hats and villains in black ones, and where law enforcement largely consisted of sheriffs and outlaws facing off at high noon on the main streets of dusty, desolate towns where every man packed at least one six-shooter on his hips. Its colorful stuff—but the truth is even better.
As The Last Gunfight makes clear, the real story of the O.K. Corral and the West is far different from what weve been led to believe by countless TV Westerns and Hollywood films. Drawing on new material from private collections—including diaries, letters, and Wyatt Earps own hand-drawn sketch of the shootouts conclusion—as well as documentary research in Tombstone and Arizona archives and dozens of interviews, award-winning author Jeff Guinn gives us a startlingly different and far more fascinating picture of what the West was like, who the Earps and Doc Holliday and their cowboy adversaries really were, what actually happened on that cold day in Tombstone, and why.
The gunfight did not actually occur in the O.K. Corral, and it was in no way a defining battle between frontier forces of good and evil. Combining newfound facts with cinematic storytelling, Guinn depicts an accidental if inevitable clash between competing social, political, and economic forces representing the old West of ruggedly independent ranchers and cowboys and the emerging new West of wealthy mining interests and well-heeled town folk.
With its masterful storytelling, fresh research, and memorable characters—the Earps, cattle rustlers, frontier prostitutes, renegade Apaches, and Tombstone itself, a beguiling hybrid of elegance and decadence—The Last Gunfight is both hugely entertaining and illuminating, and the definitive work on the Wild Wests greatest shootout.
"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. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
For the first time, and by a bestselling author, the full story of the gunfight at Tombstone's OK Corral, one of the Old West's most famous battles.
About the Author
Jeff Guinn is the author of Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde, which was a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2010. An award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, he was books editor and senior writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and has appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", CNN's "Headline News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and "Fox and Friends". He lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
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