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  • Lance Mannion
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"That part of Arizona was not the best cattle country, to put it mildly."

Still isn't (or wasn't when I stayed overnight in Tombstone in 1993). Other than the mines, there was no reason for that town to be there. Bisbee, about 25 miles south, became the county seat. I'd venture to say without the OK Corral mythology the town would have died once the mines did.

minstrel hussain boy

one of the reasons rustling was tolerated as much as it was back then was that the cattle were mostly stolen from the mexican rancheros in sonora.

i've done "gunfight days" at tombstone more than a couple of times playing at the birdcage. the best blow by blow account remains the tombstone epitaph. it is accepted fact that everyone killed there that day was killed by doc. along with being tuburcular and possessed with an decidedly nasty dispostiion, he was a deadly sumbitch.


"Doc" by Mary Doria Russell is an absorbing somewhat fictionalized biography of Doc Holliday. Russell has made her reputation as an author in a different venue: "The Sparrow" was an award winning science fiction book. I highly recommend Doc

Ben Mays

As a descendent of both the Hatfields (Devil Anse was my great-great-great grandfather, and the M iller's in my family were really McCoys from the other side of the Tug) and the McCoy's I have always found that much of our cultural history had hidden political undertomes.


This piece blew me away.

As a twelve year old kid, I was fascinated by the Gunfight (always capital G) and devoured everything my school library had on the subject. I never watched the older movies for some reason, but years later, in high school, Tombstone imprinted on my brain really powerfully.

Lance, your writing really knocked it out of the park here. Seeing the factual underpinnings of a myth that so enthralled me as a kid was really a treat.

It's funny, too -- with Linkmeister's comment above, I feel like, in a funny way, that instant at the vacant lot when the guns came out is burned into time (or at least into myth) like the afterburn of a camera flash. We have to have somewhere to go to revisit that moment, so a town that shouldn't really exist does. That's kind of cool, if you ask me.

Ralph Hitchens

I second the endorsement of Mary Doria Russell's excellent novel _Doc_. Her portrayal of Wyatt Earp aligns closely with what you said above, so she & Guinn must have drunk from the same trough. She also has plausible depictions of Doc Holliday, his paramour "Big Nose" Kate, and Bat Masterson -- who apparently, single-handedly turned Doc Holliday into a Wild West legend. And many other characters, as well as the "look and feel" of the frontier West that few authors have equaled.


I enjoyed this story more than I did the book!

Lance Mannion

Thank you, Falstaff. Wyatt and I go way back together too.

Minstrel, Guinn gets into the back and forth between the Mexican and Arizonan ranchers and rustlers and I was looking for a way to work it into the review, thinking it might say something about the current weirdnesses and hatreds in Arizona---the Anglo willingness to believe every crazy story about Mexicans might be an inherited lunacy that goes back 130 years.

Link, Tombstone did die, practically, according to Guinn. A second big silver strike in the area resuscitated it, somewhat, and it survived long enough to be around to take advantage of the Gunfight myth when that took hold.

moe and Ralph, Doc sounds like it's right up my alley and I wish I'd known about it in time to pair a review of it up with this. Still planning to read it.

GregN, thanks. I was disappointed when I was reading the book but when I thought back on it, preparing to write this, I found more I liked about it.

Ben, there's a story I'd like to hear!

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