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The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral---and How It Changed the American West

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  996 ratings  ·  175 reviews
For the first time ever, the full story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral—not only what really happened but why, and how mythology has led us to completely misinterpret the real history of the frontier—by the bestselling author of Go Down Together.

Combining cinematic storytelling with prodigious research, The Last Gunfight upends conventional wisdom about what the West w
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Published May 18th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2011)
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Matt
“It’s like Deadwood…without people.”
-- Me, to my wife, upon entering Tombstone.

When my wife and I drove into Tombstone a few years back, the first thing that struck me was its verisimilitude. It really did a good job mimicking its late-19th century self. That is to say, like any boom town gone bust, it was empty.

(To be fair to the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, we arrived at the end of the season. Arriving at the end of the season is a skill of mine. I dislike crowds and lines and traffic).

Th
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Robert Jones
Wanna be a little bit pretentious? STEP 1: Read this book. STEP 2: Watch Tombstone with friends. STEP 3: have fun pointing out all the little errors in the movie! Your friends will love it. I promise.

Unlike Every Day Life in the Wild West, the Last Gunfight actually gives a good idea of what life was back in the wild west. It does so by giving the abbreviated histories of nearly everybody involved in the legendary Tombstone gunfight. So you not only learn what it was like to have been a gunsling
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Kent Horner
This is an extremely well researched book about, not just the gunfight at the O.K. corral, which actually took place in a vacant lot near the O.K. corral but about the history of the Earps, the Clantons, the Arizona territory and the township of Tombstone and why it was named Tombstone. The "blood and thunder" hyperbole that was common in books written about the frontier characters was foundational in the massive amount of "cowboy" movies and tv shows that peaked in the 1950's. Matt Dillon, the ...more
James Rada Jr.
This book reminded me of the line from the John Wayne movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." I was reminded of it because Jeff Guinn did the opposite. Through a lot of research, he worked to trace back the beginnings of the "Gunfight at the OK Corral." In doing so, he actually wound up making the story of the one of the most-famous gunfights in history less interesting, though it was more correct than story of legend.

Guinn writes well, don't ge
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Patrick Belair
This was one of my thrift shop finds ,and was a very good one.Mr Guinn tells a very deep and in my opinion very detailed look at the infamous fight at the o k corral in Thombstone Arizona.If you are a fan of the old west and all the life size people involved in the not so pleasant times check out this book you will be surprised what you learn. I was.
Karen Ireland-Phillips
This caught my eye the last time I swung through the library because I really didn’t know the story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral. Mary Doria Russell’s Doc piqued my interest in the subject. [return]Doc was a fictionalize exploration of a man usually portrayed as a cold-blooded killer. Ms. Russell traced his childhood, young adulthood and the course of his tuberculosis and alcoholism, and questioned whether Doc Holliday wasn’t motivated by friendship and self-preservation far more than ill ...more
Kevin Symmons
As a student of the "Old West" it was a pleasure to read a thoroughly researched work that debunked the myth of the heroic gun battle at the OK corral, which Professor Guinn correctly explains never took place at that location. I found his characterizations illuminating and honest. He gave a fair description of the times and participants on both sides of the infamous feud between the Earps and the Cowboys. I also enjoyed the background material and his explicit descriptions of the silver strike ...more
Julie Guthrie
I really, really like Jeff Guinn. He's all about historical context. This account mostly sets the stage (ha) for the famous Tombstone shootout--the actual standoff happens near the end of the book. The real story is a bit less exciting than other versions tell because several of the characters turn out to be big liars and because storytelling and embellishment are rich Old West traditions. I learned that guns weren't actually allowed in Western city limits, "cowboy" was synonymous with "criminal ...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
The Last Gunfight: The Real Story Of The Shootout At The O.K. Corral — And How It Changed The American West by Jeff Guinn is a non-fiction book which traces the famous gunfight. The author cuts through the myth to tell the reader how wild the west really was.

The gunfight at the O.K. Corral is ingrained in American culture and one of the prime examples of lawmen taking care of business. Only that the gunfight didn’t occur in the O.K. Corral, nor was it a defining moment in history.

When I saw the
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Mark
If you only want to read one book on Gunfight at the OK Corral - this is the best book on it.

Now for my longer review:
I've been studying the Gunfight at the OK Corral since I was in the 8th grade when I did my first book report on Wyatt Earp. And I've read entire books dedicated on Earp and Doc Holliday - so I had to keep that in mind when reading this book. Basically there's a lot of stuff I already knew but most people probably won't know.

The Gunfight at the OK Corral remains with us because i
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Scott
One of the more disappointing reads I've had in while. I picked this up at the discount table of a local bookstore, and maybe that should have tipped me off. What should have tipped me off even more was reading the first chapter which struck me as a rambling, unfocused, and generally uninteresting hodge podge of generalities, but I figured it would probably get better once the author got into the real subject matter of the book. And it did, in a way - the generalities were gone, but there were a ...more
Tom Marcinko
Shamless self-promo: I interviewed the author and quoted him in this article.

Pure kismet: I'd checked this book out of the library and it was sitting on my night table, patiently waiting to be read, before I even got the assignment to write that short item about the cowboys.

Here's Jeff Guinn's nut graf:

'As Pima County deputy sheriff, [Wyatt Earp] had to contend with a steady influx of arrivals who were every bit as experienced in breaking the law as Wyatt was in enforcing it. Like his adversari
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Mike
I've read about everything there is to offer on this particular subject....and I found this to be both informative and very entertaining. Each of the more popular titles dealing with the shootout, or Wyatt and the Earps, and of course Doc Holiday, claims to be the end all be all of up to date research...and in the end where you fall really depends on your ability to incorporate new facts and info into your views despite any biases you may harbor..and just how far you're willing to go to verify t ...more
Stephen Welch
Have to say this book was amazing. As he did with Go Down Together the story of Bonnie and Clyde, Jeff Guinn here stripped away the myths and misconception of what really happened in Tombstone on October 26 1881.

Guinn is becoming one of my faovorite historians to read. With the Last Gunfight Guinn doesn't tell this story just from the side of the Earps. And if your a fan of the movie Tombstone starring Kirk Russell and Val Kilmer and think this was a story as simple as the good guys vs the bad g
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Jim A
Good read that separates Hollywood from reality as to what happened in Tombstone in 1881, and the aftermath.

Aaron
I have to give Jeff Guinn credit for finding and writing what seems to be close to the truth about this story. The men of the West really did have a knack for telling tall tales. They were quick to warp the truth and make outlandish claims that enunciated their role in the story. Things like saying they took on 20 marauding bandits by themselves with a single pistol. Though at the beginning I was finding fault with the book due to Guinn's repeated uncertainty about many specfics (he would say th ...more
A. King
A pleasant surprise -- "The Last Gunfight" was a great book. I was raised on TV and movie westerns, and the legend of Wyatt Earp has been a pervasive theme across fictional portrayals of the old west in general. Author Jeff Guinn has done an excellent job of research into the man behind the myth. As you might expect, the truth of Wyatt Earp is much more nuanced than the portrayal you see in "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."

Useful piece of trivia: The actual gunfight was not so much a duel as an att
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David
It seems as though every "new" book about the Earps and Tombstone (and there have been many) reveals some new bits and pieces of the legend, and Mr. Guinn's effort is no exception. His style keeps the narrative moving and the map of downtown Tombstone is helpful in understanding the logistics of the notorious shootout.

When taken as part of the whole western oeuvre, this is a valuable piece of history.
Gary
As I read this book, couldn't help thinking of the famous line from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:" "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

The famous "gunfight at the O.K. Corral" was nothing like how it is remembered in the popular mind. The notion of who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" were was very fluid. The whole event was the culmination of much miscommunication and misunderstanding, sent off by a drunk Ike Clanton. No one was really fighting for jus
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David Rusk
Apparently in the late 19th Century to refer to someone as a ‘cowboy’ was the equivalent of insulting them. Cowboys were the rustlers and villains who played around on the edges of civilized society – or at least what passed for civilized society during the formation of the Wild West. That is one of the facts we learn when reading Jeff Guinn’s The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral – And How It Changed the American West. While I found that interesting, seeing how ‘c ...more
Carol
I've often wondered what the big deal is about Wyatt Earp, why Hollywood has made such a big deal about him and the gunfight at the Okay Corral and how one book would be devoted to that event. This book spells out the big deal. I had no idea Daniel Boone and the Texas Rangers would factor into this story. The author has done a great job laying out the history that led west to Arizona and the political, economic and cultural influences that made the west "wild" and contributed to what I summarize ...more
Jonathan Roberts
Jeff Guinn’s The Last Gunfight served as my introduction to the off-screen world of cowboys, lawmen and those caught in the middle during the mid/late 19th century. With the exception of Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (an excellent read, by the way), my experience of the American frontier for the most part featured John Wayne, John Ford and Clint Eastwood. This book, although evidently well-researched, does not overwhelm the reader by presuming an in-depth knowledge of the Earps, the ...more
David
History can be dry. Even good history can be dry. The Last Gunfight is not dry. It is an exciting and illuminating narrative that opens the windows and lets the light in on an iconic and much-misrepresented event in American history. Here is the simple truth about this book. Guinn's description of the actual gunfight near (not in) the OK Corral lasts about three pages, and describes a period of about thirty seconds. By the time you get there, you have a complete understanding of who the eight me ...more
George Seaton
Good, informative read. Silly me. I've believed all these years that the gunfight at the OK Corral actually took place at the OK Corral. It didn't.

Jeff Guinn writes reasonably well, and responsibly researched the subject matter of this book.

I was reminded of a quote from Norman Mailer: "Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists." And, to add to Mailer's conclusion, once a wannabe legend reflects on his life, I suppose we can forgive him his excesses.

R
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Cindy
Jeff Guinn did a great job at clearing up a few questions I have always had about the actual
gunfight in Tombstone of which I have read so much. I also now have a greater respect and
admiration for Virgil Earp.
Carl
A literate thoroughly researched reimagining of the most Infamous gunfight of the American West. Guinn removes the White Hat Black Hat oversimplification of more than a century of western mythos has added to the Gunfight near the O.K. Corral which actually occurred on Fremont street.

The Cowboys and the Earps are all brought to multifaceted reality filled with complexity and all too human foibles and contradictions. No one here can or has ever acted with the most noble of intentions.

A marvelous j
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SP
A very good overview of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral -- which actually didn't take place at the OK Corral, but in a vacant lot nearby. The shootout itself is just a small part of the story. Author Jeff Guinn does a great job of establishing the context -- particularly the origins of Tombstone as a mining town and the escalating tensions between the town leaders, the "cowboys" (at the time the term was synonymous with "outlaws"), and the Earp brothers. A fun read about an interesting peri ...more
Jay
A detailed and well written account of the rise and fall of Tombstone focusing, of course, on the Earps, Doc Holiday, the Clanton gang, the fight at the OK Corral and all the other stuff we know about. Theres a lot of conjecture here, but I think it's about as detailed a book as we can get on the subject. Sadly, "you gonna do something, or just stand there and bleed." something I've always wanted to say to someone after smacking them, doesn't appear in the book. Although, Wyatt pistol whipping p ...more
Joe Frank
Well documented account of late nineteenth century events and individuals who have become source material for ever expanding western mythology. Though the history of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone Arizona, and the big shootout got my attention, I found the supporting cast of characters and their social and political dealings fascinating. The real draw for me was the segment of history that Jeff Guinn adequately documents. I worried that he might spoil my lifelong enjoyment of the good-old American Wester ...more
Casey Harris
This is a fairly well-researched book on the background and events of the "Shootout at the OK Corral," and I very much enjoyed the story and the way the history is presented. However, one sentence in the book unfortunately makes me cringe, and ultimately makes me question the author's interpretation of the other events in the book.

In describing the settlement of the West as background to the book, the author explains that the Mormons migrated West because of "perceived religious persecution" (p
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Jeff Guinn is the author of MANSON: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, THE LAST GUNFIGHT: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral And How It Changed the American West, and GO DOWN TOGETHER: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde, which was a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2010. He was a longtime journalist who has won national, regional and state awards for investigative reporti ...more
More about Jeff Guinn...
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson The Autobiography of Santa Claus (The Christmas Chronicles #1) Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas (The Christmas Chronicles #2) The Great Santa Search (The Christmas Chronicles #3)

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