Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend
by Casey Tefertiller

Cowtown Justice
A New Town, A New Badge
Murder and Madness
A March to Destiny
"I Think We Can Hang Them." Tombstone in Terror
Law versus Order
A Fight for Honor
The Last Frontiers
Long May His Story Be Told
Notes and Sources

"Quite impressive. I doubt if there has been or will be a more deeply researched and convincing account." --Evan Connell, author Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn "The book to end all Earp books--the most complete, and most meticulously researched." --Jack Burrows, author John Ringo: The Gunfighter Who Never Was "The most thoughtful, well-researched, and comprehensive account that has been written about the development and career of an Old-West lawman." --The Tombstone Tumbleweed "A great adventure story, and solid history." --Kirkus Reviews "A major contribution to the history of the American West. It provides the first complete and accurate look at Wyatt Earp's colorful career, and places into context the important role that he and his brothers played in crime and politics in the Arizona territory. This important book rises above the realm of Western biography and shows the development of the Earp story in history and myth, and its effect on American culture." --John Boessenecker, author Gold Dust and Gunsmoke "The ultimate Wyatt Earp book." --Professor Richard Brown University of Oregon

CASEY TEFERTILLER is a former writer for the San Francisco Examiner with a keen interest in the American West.

Basing his account on primary resources, Tefertiller, a former writer for the San Francisco Examiner, has tried to write an unbiased report of the storied life of lawman Wyatt Earp‘a villain and a hero in Tombstone, Arizona, both before and after his death in 1929. Portrayed by novelists, historians, and filmmakers, the Earp brothers‘especially Wyatt‘became the stuff of legends. Attempting to uncover what really happened in Tombstone, Tefertiller draws on newspaper articles and personal accounts by Earp's friends, enemies, and acquaintances. The result is a fresh look at legendary events, showing how the image of Earp was formed. This well-researched historical work is a pleasure to read. Recommended for collections on the American West and wherever Earp is popular.‘Terri P. Summey, Emporia State Univ. Lib., Kan. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

As Terfertiller's biography establishes, Earp's legend endures vividly in books and films, especially in John Ford's classic My Darling Clementine (1946), which is not burdened by the facts. Earp spent many more years as gambler and saloonman than as frontier marshal. The saga of the Earp brothers in Dodge City and Tombstone in the 1880s is a sleazy one, Terfertiller shows, as they operated on both sides of the law, enforcing order as maverick marshals. If there were profits to be made, principle became insignificant. One vendetta, the notorious O.K. Corral shootup, takes up much of the story. Yet there were few pistol duels, none of them cinematically romantic, and Earp, with his Sadie, would drift in search of income as far north as Nome, Alaska. Down on his luck, he lived into his 80s, dying in 1929 after decades of handouts from his wife's family. Although he had already become a legend in print, his gunslinger period was unrewarding, and his years after Tombstone proved to be even more so. Terfertiller, a former journalist for the San Francisco Examiner, is meticulous in his research, with the net effect of diminishing the Earp image. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

According to Tefertiller, Wyatt Earp the person lived long enough to rue his part in the creation of Wyatt Earp the Wild West lawman and prototypical pop cultural icon. Meticulously, Tefertiller strives to untangle the threads of truth in Earp's story from those of hyperbole and froth. He finds that widespread impressions of Earp as either a fanciful hero or an ominous villain are cartoonlike pastiches, products of the fable of Earp created in magazines, books, and films that sensationalized his story. Of course, Tefertiller examines the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which was to haunt Earp because it became such a staple of Wild West folklore; even after detailed analysis, the incident remains murky. Earp lived into his seventies, which gave him plenty of time to be involved in further controversies, such as his refereeing of the Sharkey-Fitzsimmons boxing match, for which his personal integrity and grasp of the rules of boxing were questioned. In all, an engrossing, satisfying inspection of a quintessential figure in American popular culture. --Mike Tribby

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