York, PA author, historian, architectural expert, and community leader Scott D. Butcher has always amazed me. An incredibly prolific writer and talented photographer, he shares my passion for the Civil War history of York County. Another area of mutual interest is the Old Wild West. When I was a kid growing up in southern Ohio, I loved playing with my Marx Fort Apache playset and my Fort Cheyenne set, as well as watching Branded, Bonanza, The Big Valley, and other Westerns. John Wayne was one of my heroes. As I got older, I read every account I could of gunfighters, and collected Leaf’s Good Guys and Bad Guys trading cards. The Gunfight at OK Corral was a particular favorite, and I watched several movies on the topic (Burt Lancaster / Kurt Russell / Kevin Coster as Wyatt Earp) multiple times as an adult. I have also wargamed Wild West gunfights such as the one with the Clantons, Earps, and McLaurys.
With that lengthy backdrop, you will better understand why I chose to divert from my usual Civil War topic for the Cannonball blog and instead present my impressions on Scott Butcher’s wonderful new book, Tombstone: Relive the Gunfight at the OK Corral(Schiffer Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7643-3425-2).
I only have two words about this book: BUY IT!
Well, actually I have a few more…
There has been so much twisted over the years about the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral. While most native-born Americans have certainly heard about the incident, most people’s impression is colored by the many Hollywood movies, comic books, pulp fiction accounts, and websites. Few have ever actually visited Tombstone to see the modern sights, to walk in the footsteps of Marshal Morgan Earp and his brothers and their ally Doc Holliday. Fewer still understand the complete story of what happened that Wednesday afternoon on October 26, 1881.
Scott Butcher nicely peels away the myths, the legends, and the misconceptions of the cowboys versus lawmen fight (which is the popular conception as to the combatants). He spends the early part of the book introducing the key participants and their roles, and then explores the history of the Tombstone region before presenting the actual gunfight. Butcher’s modern photos adds tremendously to the understanding of the text and the events depicted therein.
The author then takes the reader on a fascinating visual tour of Tombstone, starting with historic Allen Street. The lynch pin of the modern Tombstone recreational area, Allen Street comes alive in Butcher’s wonderfully composed photographs and well flowing text. Next, Scott looks around Tombstone and explores its streets and other environs of interest.
Finally, he turns his attention to perhaps the most famous element of the Tombstone legend — Boot Hill. The photographs are again of considerable interest and value, expecially for readers such as me who have not been to Tombstone (we couldn’t make it there on our family’s RV vacation to Arizona last summer).
This is a terrific book, one that will both entertain and educate you. The variety and quantity of photographs is astounding; the text is crisp and interesting; and the layout by the Schiffer graphic designers works well.
Pick up a copy ASAP! For those readers in the York area, Scott Butcher frequents many community events and I am sure Scott will be happy to sign your copy. It is available at many leading retail outlets, or on the web from the publisher or various booksellers such as amazon.com.
You most certainly will NOT be disappointed! The book make a fantastic birthday gift, or for Father’s Day or other celebrations.
For Scott’s photos, buy the book, or visit his excellent website for examples.