Tom Clavin- TOMBSTONE: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell
Play • 12 min

Tom Clavin’s popular Western histories have delighted readers and earned critical accolades. Like many, Clavin is fascinated by the larger-than-life personalities and enduring myths that surround the Wild West. His histories take on those myths and legends, separating fact from fiction to get at what really happened. In Dodge City, he told the true story of how a depraved cattle town was tamed by two young lawmen. In Wild Bill, he provided a definitive biography of the first lawman of the Wild West. In his next book, TOMBSTONE: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell (St. Martin’s Press) he takes readers to Tombstone, Arizona to examine the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the “vendetta ride” that made Earp a legend. Together, these three books form the Frontier Lawmen Trilogy and deepen the understanding of the country’s formative years when new social structures were shaping a new way of life.

Clavin’s trilogy draws a line from the post-Civil War years where the prototype of the frontier lawman was established by Wild Bill Hickok to the mid-late 1870s when Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson cleaned up Dodge City as peace officers, to Tombstone, where the 1881 gunfight can be seen as the last gasp of violent lawlessness in a closing frontier as “civilization” took hold in the West. Today, the distinction between the good guys and the bad guys seems clear but the truth was far murkier. This is especially true of the men who faced off in Tombstone.

In TOMBSTONE, Clavin uses existing scholarship and his own extensive research to tell the story of the most famous shootout in American frontier history. The fight sprang forth from a tense, hot summer. Cattle rustlers had been terrorizing the back country of Mexico and selling the livestock they stole to corrupt ranchers. The Mexican government built forts along the border to try to thwart American outlaws, while Arizona citizens became increasingly agitated. Rustlers, who became known as the cow-boys, began to kill each other as well as innocent citizens. That October, tensions boiled over with Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne confronting the Tombstone marshal, Virgil Earp, and the suddenly deputized Wyatt and Morgan Earp and shotgun-toting Doc Holliday.

Clavin peers behind decades of legend surrounding the story of Tombstone to reveal the true story of the drama and violence that made it famous. TOMBSTONE also digs deep into the vendetta ride that followed the tragic gunfight, when Wyatt and Warren Earp, along with Holliday went vigilante to track down the likes of Johnny Ringo, Curly Bill Brocius, and other cowboys who had cowardly gunned down his brothers. That “vendetta ride” would make the myth of Wyatt Earp complete and punctuate the struggle for power in the American frontier’s last boom town.

TOM CLAVIN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has worked as a newspaper and web site editor, magazine writer, TV and radio commentator, and a reporter for The New York Times. He has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and National Newspaper Association. His books include The Heart of Everything That Is, Halsey’s Typhoon, and Reckless. He lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

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