Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Wyatt Earp, by Andrew C. Isenberg

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Wild West magazine. Published Online: July 30, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life, by Andrew C. Isenberg, Hill and Wang (a division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux), New York, 2013, $30

"I have doubtless made many mistakes in trying to puzzle out the details of Earp's life," the author admits in his acknowledgments. With all the shadows, gaps, myths, contradictions, lies and cover-ups involved, trying to sort out the truths in Wyatt Earp's life is, as Andrew Isenberg says, a humbling process. He has picked up much of his information from the research of earlier Earp investigators and has skillfully blended it all together while providing his own conclusions (many debatable, but then what conclusions in this field aren't?). It is a good read but will no doubt irk many fans of Wyatt, who comes across here as a not very likeable fellow who led "a life of restlessness, inconstancy, impulsive law-breaking and shifting identities."

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Wild West magazine

There is something to be said for Isenberg's argument that Wyatt "embraced the prerogative of self-invention." And when the author writes, "Wyatt convincingly acted the part of the upright lawman but was never willing to sacrifice gambling, prostitutes, confidence games or petty crimes to become one completely," it almost rings true—almost. Gambling was Wyatt's primary profession (as it was for Bat Masterson) and soiled doves went with the territory in the Wild West. That didn't mean those times he took jobs to uphold the law and seek justice were all an "act." In any case, no matter how many flaws the man had, it's hard to figure this book's title. When one brother was killed and another crippled from ambush, and the sheriff was on the side of the ambushers, Wyatt went on a so-called vigilante ride (or vendetta) in 1882. It's hard to blame him for reacting that way, but even if you do, that was just one year in a long life, and "vigilante" doesn't even fit his standing during those famous 30 seconds near the O.K. Corral.

Editor


Recommended


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by the Weider History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History Group

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2013 Weider History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy