The Last Gunfight

Jeff Guinn

One hundred and thirty years ago, Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and the notorious Doc Holliday engaged in a deadly shootout with Ike Clanton and his boys at the O.K. Corral, an event that lasted but a few brief seconds. Brief though it may have been, that episode imprinted itself indelibly on the American imagination, inspiring uncountable articles, books and movies revisiting what happened in Tombstone on that October day in 1881. Jeff Guinn, whose last book chronicled the career of Bonnie and Clyde, does an equally engaging job here of resurrecting this oft-told tale, separating fact from mythology and forcing even those of us who thought we knew this story to see it anew. When I was a young dude, I played Lowball in the backroom of a saloon up in Quincy. Red, the superannuated guy who dealt that game, claimed to have played poker with Wyatt Earp when he was young and Earp was old. It might have happened. Earp died in Los Angeles in 1928, the same decade Red claimed to have shared a table with him. But separating fact from yarns is always a tough call. In this book, Guinn makes a compelling and readable case for what may have really happened.