Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell
- By Tom Clavin
- Hardcover: 400 pages
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.