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reading Western Books

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Richard--W
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Joined: January 11th, 2010, 7:40 am

reading Western Books

Postby Richard--W » November 6th, 2013, 2:41 pm

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143915 ... er=&sr=1-1

Jeff Guinn's The Last Gunfight may sound mis-titled if you hear the title out of the context in which he puts it ... but it's still mis-titled. This is a well-researched, well-organized and carefully considered account of the circumstances and events that led to the gunfight in Tombstone and its aftermath. As someone who is intimately acquainted with the primary evidence cited herein, I am impressed with Jeff Guinn's objectivity and assessment. There are times when the historian overstates his case, particularly in regard to women in the west and their role as either prostitute or wife, and other times when he is too skeptical (Wyatt's character) or not skeptical enough (Behan's character), but these are minor issues. I especially appreciated the way he pulls together the Earp family's constant, frequent comings and goings across the west before they arrived at Tombstone. He finds the motivation suggested by their travels, and explains it to us in a way that makes sense. I've read other accounts of their travels, both published and unpublished, but Jeff Guinn is the first to really pull it together. The general reader and those who are familiar with this story only from the movies may think this book debunks the west, but it does nothing of the kind. It simply reconstructs history from evidence and then interprets it. If anything, the story comes out even more "western" by avoiding fantasy and mythology, which is, after all, an historian's job. But I do have serious disagreements with some of his interpretation of Wyatt Earp's character. He gives Johnny Behan and Curly Bill Brocious the benefit of every doubt, but he's overly cynical and critical of Wyatt. Keeping that shortcoming in mind, of the several excellent histories about the Earp-Clanton conflict in Cochise County, Arizona in 1881, this is the single most readable, authoritative, reasonably reliable, gracefully told and entertaining.

Highly recommended.
Last edited by Richard--W on November 8th, 2013, 5:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
"To live outside the law you must be honest."
Bob Dylan, 1965

kingrat
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Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: reading Western Books

Postby kingrat » November 6th, 2013, 3:52 pm

Nick, if you like novels about the West, I can recommend Vardis Fisher's The Mothers, about the Donner party. At one time Roman Polanski wanted to make a movie of it.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: reading Western Books

Postby Rita Hayworth » November 11th, 2013, 4:50 pm

I'm definitely will be reading this book at my local library. Thanks Richard for the information! :)

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Richard--W
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Joined: January 11th, 2010, 7:40 am

Re: reading Western Books

Postby Richard--W » November 28th, 2013, 3:22 am

Regarding your avatar, I hope Rita doesn't intend to eat the turkey all by herself.

I found some errors of fact and errors of omission in the book. Now that I've had more time to think about it I find myself in serious disagreement with some of the the author's interpretation. But on the whole, it's more right than wrong and more instructive than not. So my recommendation is qualified but still stands.
"To live outside the law you must be honest."
Bob Dylan, 1965

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: reading Western Books

Postby Rita Hayworth » November 28th, 2013, 11:13 am

Richard--W wrote:Regarding your avatar, I hope Rita doesn't intend to eat the turkey all by herself.




I certainly hope not!


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