The Last Gunfight by Jeff Guinn

The Last Gunfight by Jeff Guinn

Tombstone, a town every western history buff has heard of, and one which I visited a few years ago. The Gunfight at OK Corral, another name everyone is pretty familiar with even if you are not a history buff.
What happened, who is to blame, and can anyone really tell the real story about the town and the shootout? Many books have been written on this topi, many either side with the Earp’s or with tyhe Clanton’s. It is hard to find that middle ground of reality. This book tries, and does a good job with the history of Tombstone up until the Earp’s enter the picture. It seems to me that when reading the first 200+ pages of the book this author makes every assumption or opinion agains the Earp family. It is funny, Wyatt comes to Tombstone with his common law wife and must hide due to that fact. Johnny Behan, who will become sheriff, comes with his common law wife and has no such worries according to the author. So many assumptions all fall against the Earp family and you begin to wonder about objectivity. And then we get into the gunfight.
Is there anyone to blame? From my reading of this book and so many others, that blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ike Clanton, a loud-mouth windbag who continually wants to shoot and kill the Earp’s and who goads everyone into action. The second is John Behan who is almost a clownish example of a sheriff. His posses never find outlaws, he associates with the Cowboys, he lies to one and all, and he has numerous prisoners escape from his jail.
Justice is a word used infrequently in the west and this book gives numerous examples of justice denied. Wyatt’s vendetta ride is basically due to that lack of justice and how witnesses would lie to protect their friends, or family.
This is a good book, I feel there are better, but it just continues to pile onto the already massive amounts of books on the topic. There is no right or wrong, there is no middle ground or “real” story. All that is lost in history, and even many of the new sources still are unable to give us the answer and reasons for the gunfight. However, even if you read this book you cannot come to any other conclusion that there was an inept, buffoon-like sheriff who wanted to be reelected, and wanted fame and fortune; and then there is the guy who just cannot shut up, who just cannot stop drinking and making threats about a fight but when the fight comes he usually runs away.

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