At about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in a small town in Arizona called Tombstone, a gunfight, believed to have lasted only about thirty seconds, was fought between the outlaw Cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and the opposing lawmen Morgan and Wyatt Earp, aided by Doc Holliday. That thirty seconds is branded on every kid that ever played cowboy. This book is not about that gunfight.
Doc Holiday was a Georgia dentist, an accomplished concert classical pianist and a member of the Southern gentry who unfortunately contracted tuberculosis in 1873. This wonderful book takes that character out of the myth of a killer, gambler and gunslinger and allows us to live his life in a three dimensional memoir of the man leading up to that thirty second gun fight. The story takes us from Atlanta, Georgia to the Philadelphia School of Dentistry, to the Texas frontier and to Dodge City Kansas. “Get out of Dodge” takes on a new meaning when we are brought into the lives of Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and their prostitute “wives”. In the heart of this tale, is a Doc, a gentleman stuck in his own paradigm, decimated with consumption, yet maintaining his Southern gentility until the end.
The book is a piece of historical fiction, based on letters and personal communications containing many liberties but more truth than fiction. I found the reading easy, the Western and Southern dialect entertaining, and the characters raucously three dimensional. A fast and entertaining read.
I do not do the omelet rating system, however true to the cowboy in me…”I give this darn book the whole friggin’ chicken!”