A little over a year ago, at the True West headquarters in Cave Creek, Arizona, True West’s Senior Vice President Bob Brink asked me if there were any other gunfights in Tombstone besides the O.K. Corral fight.
When I responded that there were actually quite a few, Bob looked surprised. “Really?” he asked. “How many?” Off the top of my head, I reeled off a dozen.
That’s when the concept hit me. What if I put the O.K. Corral fight in its proper perspective by chronologically listing other dramatic events that occurred from 1880-82? And furthermore, what if I gave equal attention to all of the other violent encounters, fleshing out everything leading up to the big fight and everything going out the other side? Now we’re getting somewhere.
In almost all of the books on Wyatt Earp or Tombstone, many significant events are glossed over or simply omitted in order to drive the narrative to the big fight, and then it’s off to the Vendetta Ride and out the other side. In virtually every movie and book, these episodes end up getting short shrift (I would include my own books on Wyatt and Doc to that list).
Historical Editor Neil Carmony fed me rare primary source materials to help me accomplish my goals for the book, which also included portraying everyday life in and around Tombstone, in order to give the violence some context. In the book, I have also tried to illustrate the dramatic changes to the fledgling town, putting the two disastrous fires in their proper sequence along with their causes and the
Granted, not every one of the 25 incidents featured in the latest volume of Classic Gunfights is technically a gunfight with each side firing at each other, but I think taken as a whole, their inclusion is justified. Included here is a sneak preview of my second volume, Blaze Away: The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral.
—Bob Boze Bell
Cave Creek, AZ