• Alisa Williams

Tombstone by Tom Clavin – Book Review


My dad was obsessed with Wyatt Earp and so I grew up surrounded by books on his life and about the famous shootout at OK Corral, and of course my dad was a big fan of the movie Tombstone, and I’ve seen it easily a dozen times.


All that is to say, I was super excited to read Tom Clavin’s Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell, but WOW was this a dry read. The author clearly well-researched his subject matter, and deserves major props for that. But this reads like an encyclopedia of all things Earp, rather than narrative non-fiction which is what I’d been anticipating based on the publisher’s description. The reader is instantly overwhelmed with all manner of details and minutia with no clear thread connecting it all, other than we’re slowly (very slowly) building up to the big shootout. We bounce along with the Earps as they move from town to town, and jump from one Earp family member to the next, learning about them and their various women in what felt like haphazard fashion. We also learn about pretty much anyone and everyone who ever crossed paths with the Earps, no matter how unimportant.


I’d say this book isn’t for the casual Earp fan. The reader is expected to know quite a bit about the subject matter beforehand, and is definitely not a beginner or even an intermediate primer to the Earp family and Tombstone. If you’re someone who lives for names and dates and minutia, or you’re looking for a reference manual on the topic, you’ll appreciate this book, but if you’re looking for more of a narrative about Wyatt Earp’s life, probably best to look elsewhere.


I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review of this title.

Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.

Book cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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©2020 by Alisa Williams

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