The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933

Book Reviews and Notices

BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal. By Stuart Lake. (New York:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931. Pp. xiv, 392. Illustra-
tions. $3.50.)
When Bat Masterson, the fighting and gambling marshal of
Dodge City, Kansas, said that "The real story of the Old West can
never be told . . . unless Wyatt Earp will tell what he knows,"
he expressed the admiration of one gun-man for another, rather
than a profound historical observation. Nor can the critical reader
quite agree with Mr. Lake that even "possibly" Wyatt Earp, "More
than any other man of record in his time, . .. represents the
exact combination of breeding and human experience which laid
the foundations of Western empire." On the other hand, he must
quite agree that for frontier proficiency, resolution, and bravery,
the subject of this biography was no ordinary character. No one
could contend that Wyatt Earp's life is not a bold story, a fact
emphasized by some skillful writing on Mr. Lake's part, even if his
extended reiterations that Wyatt was the bravest and the best of all
gun-men do grow stale.
Wyatt Earp, born in Illinois in 1848, was soon adventuring in
the West with freighters, stage-drivers, and railroad construction
gangs. According to his biographer, he early, manifested an un-
usual precision-he never failed to bring in his freight, he was
never late with the mail, and he was never backed down when it
came to fighting. His experience as a buffalo hunter furnishes some
fresh material, but one doubts the author's claim that Earp's
knowledge of the buffalo and its habits was "second to none" after
only one brief season upon the range. From buffalo hunter Earp
became marshal or deputy marshal of various Kansas cowtowns,
and, according to Mr. Lake, tamed those wild places-Ellsworth,
Wichita, and Dodge-until they were almost as staid as Kansas
towns are supposed to be. But the unvarnished stories of his
exploits leave little doubt that he was the greatest marshal in the
West, even if much of his reputation was based on hammering
drunk cowboys over the head with a six-shooter.
The colorful picture that Mr. Lake paints of the Texas cowboys
is neither complimentary to his ability as a historian, nor to

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101093/. Accessed September 2, 2015.