Tombstone, the city, holds a bit of magical appeal to me. I find that I am enjoying reading history books more and more (perhaps because I’ve got more of it myself?) and I absolutely love the American Southwest for its landscape and history and few cities in this region have more history that Tombstone, Arizona.
My knowledge of the gunfight at the OK Corral, I realize, comes from popular culture (as provided in films and television) and not from the history books, so I was very glad to correct that with Tom Clavin’s book.
What Clavin has done is taken the pivotal gunfight and researched the heck out of the history of all the primary, secondary, and even tertiary people involved, giving us a glimpse of the character traits of each individual (were they prone to fighting or over-reacting, were they easy to anger or did they often look for alternatives?)
There are so many more people involved in the ordeal than were at the corral and there was a history among the players that weaves back and well before any of them arrived at Tombstone, Arizona. It’s a complicated web and quite fascinating to discover.
Clavin’s research is immaculate. It is fascinating how much of a trail we all leave and that Clavin was able to track down so much information about these people, from the 1800’s, and put together a time-line of where and when people worked or met one another is absolutely incredible. Like a lot of modern bio-history books, there is a bit of the author making assumptions about the words spoken or the intentions behind an action (usually based on general human motivations), but it was nice to read him at least once admit to not knowing why someone proceeded the way that they did, but instead offered up a couple of different possible explanations based on their history.
In addition to his tremendous research, Clavin’s writing style is smooth and his sense of storytelling moves this history from moment to moment with wonderful anticipation and ease. It is easy to read this book in a short amount of time, but you might not want to so that you can really absorb all the information proved.
Looking for a good book? Tombstone, by Tom Clavin, provides more information about the city, famous for its noted gunfight, and the people involved, than you ever imagined. This is a book not to be missed if you have even the most remote interest in history.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell
author: Tom Clavin
publisher: St. Martin’s Press
hardcover, 400 pages