The Earp Brothers of Tombstone: The Story of Mrs. Virgil Earp
This composite biography of Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, James, and Warner Earp is based on the recollections of Mrs. Virgil Earp, dictated to the author in the 1930s, and amplified by new documentary evidence unearthed by him in 1959.
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Overall this was a dimly entertaining book. I liked the IDEA that Allie Earp was providing her first hand recollections of the Earps before and during their Tombstone saga. Her perception of Wyatt and her perceptions of the key figures (Wyatt, Doc, Behan, Josie etc.). I liked too all the references by the author in support of the many statements and facts given in the book, giving a seemingly thorough book.
However, there are simply too many references one would need to follow in order to try and accept many statements. Many references themselves are to articles in the two major "newspapers" in Tombstone ( Epitaph and Nugget) and each was historically stated to favor opposite sides so I'm not sure how reliable those are. Still other references are to other books (Helldorado, Frontier Marshal, Parsons diary, etc.) to which I've been led to believe tell a different story but are used for reference? Odd. Then there's the simple fact that virtually everything Allie Earp is quoted to say about Wyatt and/or events conflicts with most other writings and characterizations. I actually like that IDEA but it gives me pause as to their believability.
I've long adopted the idea that "truth lies somewhere in the middle" especially when it comes to pre 1900 events and characterizations. There are no audio or video recordings and few factual and objective recounts of events. I plan to read next "Helldorado" and "Frontier Marshall" to see just how different those records are from Allie and Waters.
Still, I'm glad I read this book first. It's absolutely anti-Wyatt and really paints a grim picture of the Earps themselves, their stature in Tombstone and their collective and individual success in life. I definitely think some liberties were taken with the writing maybe to intentionally stir up controversy to promote the book. I think this will help me keep a realistically cautious train of thought on the next books and not accept their facts as absolute truth but rather even out the picture. Finally, I might at least be able to take away a little sense of what some of life was like for the Earp women. Women were second class citizens and as such I doubt little was championed and recorded of their everyday life.
Review: The Earp Brothers of Tombstone: The Story of Mrs. Virgil EarpUser Review - Scott - Goodreads
If you enjoy history books that debunk myths, you will like this one. The story we are told: the Earps as lawmen cleaning up the town, is actually pretty far from the truth. As Waters puts it, Wyatt ... Read full review