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Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life


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About the Author

Andrew C. Isenberg is the author of Mining California: An Ecological History and The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920, and the editor of The Nature of Cities: Culture, Landscape, and Urban Space. He is a historian at Temple University and lives in Pennsylvania.


"Meticulous . . . illuminat[es] an entire social milieu . . . Beautifully rendered . . . this new biography is a gem, and includes a touching look at Wyatt's single lifelong friendship with Doc Holliday . . . offer[s] the reader an exciting glimpse into vanished forms of American life. The field of Western history has now entered a phase of precision scholarship, [of] deep research and glorious writing." --The Wichita Eagle "This brief, well-written, and superbly researched volume reconfigures the life of the western notable Wyatt Earp.... Anyone who reads this important book is not likely to view Wyatt Earp the same way." --Richard Etulain, Journal of American History "Absorbing . . . Isenberg's brilliance as a historian comes in part from finding the gaps within the myth . . . Wyatt Earp is part biography, part historical nonfiction that reads like a gripping novel. Like David McCollough, Richard Slotkin, Nathaniel Philbruck, and S.C. Gwynne, Isenberg gives us a narrative of the Old West and 19th century America that's at once edifying and exhilarating in its scope." --PopMatters "his is the best dead-on Earp deconstruction I've ever read. At a time when vigilante action is being widely discussed--when we must ask ourselves if standing one's ground after stalking a black teenager translates into justifiable murder--it's good to know that, in the old days, the issue was even more shockingly unsettled. Not only did Earp slay with impunity, but he also relied on the media to help him wipe the fingerprints and clean up the blood. Isenberg's book deftly shows how a man of violence remade himself into a man of valor." --Tucson Weekly "Masterful . . . [the book] will be applauded by those who like their history to adhere more closely to facts." --The New Mexican (Santa Fe) "Isenberg carefully separates the historic from the hysterical, examines documents, evaluates sources critically and eventually scrapes away from Earp's image the gilding that cultural history has applied . . . Isenberg shows us Earp as an early Jay Gatsby, reinventing himself continually." --Kirkus Reviews "Meticulously researched and persuasively argued, this weave of a single life and its constantly changing culture shows how an ambitious, violent man from the Midwest who made his name as a gambler, pimp, and all-around enforcer ultimately took up the cause of remaking his own reputation, with enduring consequences for Hollywood myth and popular lore. No biographer has ever illuminated the origins of Wyatt Earp's legend or captured his complexities and contradictions as compellingly and with such beautiful prose as Andrew C. Isenberg does in Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life." --Louis S. Warren, author of Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show "Even Wyatt Earp must sometimes stand naked. Andrew C. Isenberg's new biography of Earp shows us the man bereft of his own mythologizing--a cardsharp, a flimflam man, and most of all a ruthless self-promoter. This is a remarkable and revealing portrait." --Thomas Cobb, author of With Blood in Their Eyes and Crazy Heart "This book is quite simply absorbing. That a life as tangled, contradictory, mythologized, and disguised as Wyatt Earp's could offer such a clear window into the nineteenth- and twentieth-century West is a tribute to Andrew C. Isenberg's talent as a historian and writer." --Richard White, author of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America "With no ax to grind, and showing respect for even the most outrageous attempts at history and biography (which he systematically disassembles), Andrew C. Isenberg has written a reliable guide to Wyatt Earp's conflicted existence." --Loren D. Estleman, author of The Perils of Sherlock Holmes

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