Author(s): Gary L. Roberts
'You can't beat this story for drama...An omnibus of everything ever known, spoken, or written about Doc Holliday' - "Publishers Weekly". 'An engagingly written, persuasively argued, solidly documented work of scholarship that will surely take its place in the literature of the Old West' - "Booklist". In "Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend", the historian Gary Roberts takes aim at the most complex, perplexing, and paradoxical gunfighter of the Old West, drawing on more than twenty years of research - including new primary sources - in his quest to separate the life from the legend. "Doc Holliday" was a study in contrasts: the legendary gunslinger who made his living as a dentist; the emaciated consumptive whose very name struck fear in the hearts of his enemies; the degenerate gambler and alcoholic whose fierce loyalty to his friends compelled him, more than once, to risk his own life; and, the sidekick whose near-mythic status rivals that of the West's greatest heroes.With lively details of Holliday's spirited exploits, his relationships with such Western icons as Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, and the gunfight at the O.K.
Who was Doc Holliday, the famed participant in the 1881 gunfight at OK Corral? Was he a killer and professional cutthroat, a reckless murderer, or a mild-mannered young man who would give aid to his friends, whatever the fight? Roberts (history, emeritus, Abraham Baldwin Coll.) considers these contrasting opinions as he relates John Henry "Doc" Holliday's life, a difficult task because Doc left no reminiscences, and the letters he wrote to family members were destroyed. The portrait that emerges is based on available newspaper stories and public records, which allow Roberts to show how Doc, who grew up in Georgia during the Civil War and received a DDS degree from the College of dental Surgery in Philadelphia, was a product of his circumstances. For example, he had tuberculosis and headed west in an effort to extend his life in the drier climate. Where the facts and reasons are not known, Roberts carefully considers the alternatives based upon the evidence. As he carefully points out, his work cannot be definitive but is an attempt-and a very sound one-to understand a man whose biography and legend will be forever entwined. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.
-- Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette. ("Library Journal," March 15, 2006)
Roberts, an authority on western history, takes on John Henry Holliday, legendary gunman, drinker, gambler and dentist (hence "Doc"), best known for some adroit shooting at the OK Corral on October 26, 1881. This is part biography, part debunking of myths and part archive of accounts of the lives of Holliday and the Earp Brothers written from the time they were alive up to the present. Roberts iseffective in evoking the influences that formed his subject's character. Born in Georgia in 1851, Holliday absorbed the manliness and rebelliousness instilled in young men of his prosperous class in antebellum Southern culture. Holliday also acquired expertise in drinking, whoring and gambling, as well as a taste for violence. Roberts is measured in evaluating the myths associated with Holliday's exit from Georgia and his nomadic life in Texas, Colorado and Arizona. This brings the author to Tombstone, and the fray featuring Holliday and the Earps against the Clantons and McLaurys. You can't beat this story for drama, and Roberts provides a step-by-step account of the gunfight. Some chapters are unduly packed with Roberts's massive research. But without it, the book would not have been what the author plainly intends-- an omnibus of everything ever known, spoken or written about Doc Holliday. Photos not seen by "PW." "(Apr.)" ("Publishers Weekly," February 27, 2006)
Gary L. Roberts, Emeritus Professor of History, Abraham Baldwin College, is widely recognized as a historian of the American West and frontier violence. He has published more than seventy-five articles on Western history and coedited a book on Georgia politics. He is the author of Death Comes for the Chief Justice: The Slough-Rynerson Quarrel and Political Violence in New Mexico.
Acknowledgments.Prologue: The Measure of a Man.1 Child of the Southern Frontier.2 The World Turned Upside Down.3 Gone to Texas.4 Cow Towns and Pueblos.5 The Price of a Reputation.6 Friends and Enemies.7 The Fremont Street Fiasco.8 Vengeance.9 The Out Trail.10 A Holliday in Denver.11 A Living-and Dying-Legend.12 The Anatomy of a Western Legend.Epilogue: The Measure of a Legend.Notes.Index.