Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends
On October 26, 1881, Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, and Doc Holliday shot it out with a gang of cattle rustlers near the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. It was over in half a minute, but those thirty violent seconds turned the thirty-three-year-old Wyatt Earp into the stuff of legend.
In truth, however, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral neither launched nor climaxed a career that in the course of eighty-two colorful years took Wyatt Earp from an Iowa farm to the movie studios of Hollywood, where he worked as an advisor on Western films. Along the way he saw real-life action as a buffalo hunter, bodyguard, detective, bounty hunter, gambler, boxing referee, prospector, saloon keeper, and, on occasion, a superb lawman. This authoritative biography tells Wyatt Earp’s story in all its amazing variety—a story the celebrated lawman shares with the likes of Bat Masterson, Earp’s colleague on the Dodge City police force; the tubercular, gun-toting southern gentleman Doc Holliday; and Josephine Sarah Marcus, a beautiful Jewish girl from New York City who lived and traveled with Earp throughout the last forty-seven years of his life. Biographer Allen Barra also examines the more fantastic versions of Earp’s exploits told during his own lifetime, as well as his incarnations in the myths that have flourished in our national imagination throughout the seventy years since his death.