Library Journal 4/1

The legends of the Old West town of Tombstone and lawman Wyatt Earp have been represented by Hollywood with questionable accuracy for decades, while tales of Earp and his brothers were common in broadsides and newspapers right from the start of their notoriety. Kirschner (univ. dean, Macaulay Honors Coll., CUNY; Sala’s Gift) examines the prevailing narratives surrounding Earp, Tombstone, and the O.K. Corral to correct a historical record that effectively erased any mention of women having a meaningful impact on the premises. Without giving anything away, let’s just say this biographical narrative of Josephine Marcus Earp clarifies the facts. Throughout, Kirschner raises questions about who was responsible for the omission of Josephine from the Earp story. Was Wyatt Earp’s common-law wife of almost 50 years happy to avoid the spotlight? Or did she in fact desire attention? Like many subjects of legend, and those subject-adjacent, Josephine wanted the story told on her terms, and this, typically, ensured that her experience was never really revealed. Through deft analysis of primary and secondary sources, and through contacts with extant family members, Kirschner has corrected the narrative as thoroughly as possible. VERDICT Highly recommended for Old West enthusiasts and scholars, high school and up.—Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA

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See the Complete Study Guide for Josephine's original letters, an environmental biography, and research papers.

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  • "Brilliant.... We finally have the definitive story of Josie Earp... a must-read book for anyone... who enjoys a hellaciously well-told tale."

    - Jeff Guinn, author of The Last Gunfight

  • "Brings a fresh, lively perspective to one of the great stories of the American frontier... a fascinating intersection of Jewish history and the Wild West."

    - Julie Salamon, author of Wendy and the Lost Boys



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