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Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend (History) Paperback – 22 Feb 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey Bass; New Ed edition (22 Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471283622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471283621
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Forget what you saw at the movies–this biography of the legend of the Old West shows that the facts are more interesting than the legend."––The New York Times Book Review

"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

"The book to end all Earp books––the most complete, and most meticulously researched."––Jack Burrows, author of John Ringo: The Gunfighter Who Never Was

"Quite impressive. I doubt if there has been or will be a more deeply researched and convincing account."––Evan Connell, author of The Sun of the Morning Star

From the Back Cover

"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


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
NICHOLAS PORTER EARP, a widower with one son, married Virginia Cooksey in 1840, and five years later moved the family from Kentucky to Monmouth, Illinois. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kenney on 11 April 2005
Format: Paperback
Casey Tefertiller's biography of Wyatt Earp is a very interesting book written in a somewhat scholarly manner. Tefertiller makes a serious effort to give a full account of Earp's life with a special emphasis on his exploits in Dodge and Tombstone. The picture of Earp that emerges is that of a complex man who is cool in a crisis and has the ability to profit from his mistakes. Earp is portrayed as being dependable and courageous - a cut above the ordinary lawman of the Old West. He is also an oportunist who never quite manages to strike it rich.
Earp's long career included stints as lawman, boxing referee,gambler, saloon manager, Indian fighter, miner, capitalist and horseman.He died in 1929 at age eighty in Los Angeles.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter Murphy on 10 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised by this book.This is an amazing story,and one that has fascinated me for many years.And reading this has strenghthened my interest even more.A jaw dropping account,of how the Earps struggled against all the odds,to rid Tombstone of the law-breaking Cowboys.

You're actually transported,back to spare land by the side of Fly's Boarding House,when the shots rang out.And when the smoke clears,two of the Earps are injured,and three Cowboys lie dead.A fantastic insight into the lives of the brothers,their friends and enemies.

Reading this book,was a real pleasure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 April 1998
Format: Hardcover
Earp is an enigma in American history. In fact, he was not a significant figure in our history at all. However, he has become a towering figure in American popular culture. A very private and soft-spoken man, Earp considered himself a businessman who, upon occasion, fulfilled the duties of a policeman. Tefertiller, the first trained journalist to research Earp's past since Stuart Lake did in the 1920s, captures the Earp enigma and complexity. Tefertiller takes Earp from the frontier towns where Earp was largely in control of his environment to his declining days in Los Angeles where he could control neither journalists nor his wife. This is a real biography based on facts, rising above a field that has been dominated by buffs, romantics and fiction writers disguised as historians. The New York Times called Tefertiller's book one of the significant books of 1997. There are many reasons why. Roger S. Peterson, Rocklin, California.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen McBride on 18 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A few years ago we called in Tombstone while touring in the South West. Walked about a bit, had lunch, avoided the `re-enactments', and never got round to visiting the Okay Corral. The sheer tackiness of the place had a certain charm, like Brighton Pier - or Santa Monica Pier, which Earp surely ambled down sometime. And that was about it until I recently happened to watch (most of) the Kevin Costner movie on TV one night, which left me wondering what truth there was behind all the stories.

So I went into Amazon, found the Tefertiller book, which sounded okay, and ordered a copy. I found it absolutely fascinating, and very much better than the reheated Western which I was expecting. The writing and editing might be neater at times, but this is a remarkable story very well researched and well told. It's a messy story, because of the complicated jurisdictions, murky goings-on, and dubious sources - occasional court records, random surviving copies of highly partisan local newspapers, and the long delayed reminiscences of decidedly partial participants and observers - but Tefertiller makes a very brave effort of sorting it all out, and is careful in identifying where information comes from. The footnote discussing whether there were actually two different outlaws called `Curly Bill' rather than one sums up the difficulties and the author's attempts to get at the facts. And talking of outlaw's nicknames the Dodge City War (where `Dynamite Sam', `Dirty Sock Jack' and other desperados were mentioned but probably didn't actually exist) is a wonderful example of history repeating itself as farce - and a small example of how much more there was to Earp's life than the bit that gets in the movies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on 8 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book on so many different levels. So good that I bought it after I read a library copy!
All those old cowboy films they used to show on the TV--- this is what it was all about. A very short period of time in the 'Wild West'. It makes a really exciting read if you just want to read a good story. But there is far more to it.
Earp was, and remains, a very controversial figure. Was he a good guy standing up to the criminals on his own, or was he a thuggish bent cop? If there was a lot of crime in Tombstone why didn't the citizens stand up against it and why were there so many corrupt local businessmen ready to make money from the bad guys. Were they bad guys, or was Earp the problem? Why didn't the Government act? Did Earp become a lawless rampaging vengeful murderer, or was he doing something that needed to be done but the authorities would not act. Why was Tombstone so divided in opinion? There are a lot of questions in this book that relate to criminality today. He was the Dirty Harry of his day!
Even more interesting to think that my grandfather might have read about the shootout at the OK Corral in the newspaper when he was a kid! This is real history. Fascinating photos, and information on the enigmatic Doc Holliday.
Generally I don't like the American way of telling history, but this is a really well written book. Do I convey enthusiasm?!
Two films on Earp were made based on this book, as usual Hollywood messed with the story. Earp was present in Hollywood when some of the early Westerns were made. John Wayne met him and based his image on Earp.
Worth more than 5 stars!
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