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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  666 ratings  ·  128 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...more
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Published May 18th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2011)
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“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).

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
Bob 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...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
Zohar -
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 histor...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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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.
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
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.
Troy Rodgers
As most people know from Hollywood, the infamous shootout took place in the span of a few breathless moments. This book is not just the immediate story of the shootout itself, but rather the entire scope of the story going all the way back to the founding of Tombstone, the formation of the cowtowns and cattle trails, the origins of the Cowboys in the wake of the Texas Rangers, and the bios of each of the personalities involved in this most classic of Old West soap operas. Back room deals, barroo...more
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...more
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
On a chilly October afternoon in 1881 the attempt to enforce city gun control ordinance by Tombstone, Arizona Chief of Police Virgil Earp and three deputies went horribly wrong. Less than a minute after he announced, “Boys, I’ve come to disarm you,” the police chief had a wound in his leg and three men lay in the dust dead and dying. What became known in the twentieth century as The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, was a result of a tense mixture of personal animosities, social, economic, and politi...more
Steve Howes
Anyone interested in the history of the "Wild West" has certainly heard about the gunfight at the OK Corral. Even those not interested in western history have been exposed to a raft of movies and television shows that loosely (and I do mean loosely) portray the events of October 26, 1881, in Tombstone as part of their storylines. I think this book does a good job of setting the stage for this event including the backgrounds of key players and what they were actually like, the national and local...more
Subtitled “The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral – And How It Changed the American West,” this is the story of what really transpired among Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, the Clantons, the McLaurys, inter alia. I read this because I heard the author talk about the book at the Tucson Festival of Books, and because Tombstone, Arizona is just down the highway a piece from us - a place where tourists usually want to go.

Jeff Guinn provides a family history of the Earps, with an...more
Sarah Stegall
Sep 17, 2011 Sarah Stegall rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers new to the Gunfight story
If you know nothing about the so-called Gunfight at the OK Corral, "The Last Gunfight" will be a fascinating introduction to a very complex subject. If you come to it already well-versed in the history and controversy surrounding the shootout, you will not find anything new or radical in this book. Despite the cover blurbs, Jeff Guinn does not really have anything new to present in a field which has been as thoroughly researched and debated as the Kennedy assassination.

More than 125 years after...more
Regina Lindsey
The shootout at the OK Corral is the stuff legends are made of. A plethora of novels, movies, and television shows have been produced depicting the good guy lawmen wearing white hats facing the bad guys in black hats with the good guys always winning. “The real story of Tombstone, and of the American West, is far more complex than a cartoonish confrontation between good guys and bad guys.” (pg. 19) Guinn masterfully delves into the complexities and connects the dots.
Guinn focuses on the Earps, p...more
Grandpa Joe
Wyatt Earp had his good and bad points. So did his cronies and so did their opponents in the famous Shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881 in Tombstone, AZ. Guinn exercises meticulous care to get the nuances right. He states, “The real story of Tombstone, and of the American West, is far more complex than a cartoonish confrontation between good guys and bad guys.” Guinn endeavors to provide an account that is both historically accurate and reasonably complete - insofar as the known facts permit - a...more
Bryn Dunham
Simply put this is a simplistic sketch of the famous 'Gunfight at the O.K Corral', the town of Tombstone, and the key people involved in the fight. Though I finished the book more informed about the events leading up to the famous showdown and the historical implications afterwards, it was a tad unsatisfying. I'm glad the book cleared up certain myths Hollywood movies like "Tombstone" have woven into popular legend, but the writing I think is what turned me off. This was obviously written for th...more
Perhaps one of the most fascinating stories of the American West is that of the shootout at the O.K. Corral and certainly books written and the movies made about it, verify that. Jeff Guinn in his book The Last Gunfight, the Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral--and How it Changed the American West attempts to get at the bottom of the story and sort myth and fact.

Guinn who has done meticulous research while writing this book, is not about to let the Earp myth blind him. In fact he goes...more
Josh Liller
The story of Tombstone and the Earps. Legend has grown tall on this subject so it was good to read a book that deals with it. Unsurprisingly, the Earps were not as good nor the cowboys quite as bad as they have gone down in history. he book does a good job of setting up the tensions that lead to the famous gunfight. The biggest thing I got from the book is that facts simply aren't know on many things. The records were poor, the journalism, biased, the witnesses told contradictory stories, the pa...more
This is a realistic interpretation of the "shootout at the OK Corral" (which didn't happen there), and the events and people leading up to it, and afterward.

Serious western history aficionados know that nobody involved here was a saint. That said, some recent revision has attempted to make Wyatt Earp into a thug, and he wasn't that either.

Guinn does a good job of showing that Earp, before Tombstone, rarely fired his gun, rather using the gun butt or barrel to control drovers in Dodge City and el...more
This was a refreshing take on the Earps and Wild West sensationalism. I particularly likes the discussion of the birth of the Wild West mystique at towards the end of the book.

I also appreciated that the author did not end the story with the culmination of Earps Revenge Ride, following the major players through with the remainder of their lives. It was at times hard to hear about the demise of these men that have become cultural and historical icons, but in the end they were all too human.
This was an excellent history about Tombstone, the Earps (Wyatt in particular), and the famous gunfight. Jeff Guinn does an admirable job wading through the myths and tall tales that have sprung up around this famous incident. One major theme that he demonstrates throughout the book was the shrinking of the frontier and the "freedoms" it allowed against the spread of civilization. The primary conflict in Tombstone was a town that saw itself as a shining beacon of society in teh west against peop...more
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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 Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas The Great Santa Search

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