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Clavin’s book is more than the history of the Earp and Masterson brothers, it is also the history of Kansas and mostly of Dodge City. Clavin provides a brief history of the discovery of the West from the Spanish, French to Lewis and Clark. The author tells about Zebulon Pike who spent some time exploring the area around what became Dodge City. But the primary focus of the book is the period from 1870 to 1880s in Dodge City. I loved the description of Kansas the author provides of what Francisco Vazquez de Coronado wrote, “short grass covered with mounds of prairie dogs, badgers, coyotes, wolves, antelope, deer, birds and 5 million buffalo” (American Bison). I can just picture it.
Clavin points out that Dodge City was founded at the head of the Santa Fe trail and an Army fort (Fort Dodge) was built to protect the trail. When the Santa Fe railroad reached Dodge City, the Texas cattle drives rolled into the rail head. Clavin discussed the various gunslingers home to Dodge City such as Dirty Sock Jack and Dynamite Sam. Of course, he tells the stories of Wyatt and Bat taming the town.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. The book is written in an easy reading style closer to a novel than a history book. In the opening of the book, the author tells of his problems separating fact from fiction about the Earp and Masterson brothers. He said he did his best to present only proven facts. I learned a great deal about Kansas and Dodge City from the book. As a fan of the T.V. show “Gunsmoke”, I recognized Delmonico’s and the Long Branch Saloon.
The book is just over thirteen hours long. John Bedford Lloyd did a good job narrating the book. I enjoyed his baritone voice. I had only one fault with his narration in that he mispronounced the Arkansas River. It is not pronounced like the state but the emphasis is on Kansas. Lloyd is an actor and award winning audiobook narrator.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
If you want to know the history of the American Wild West, this book is absolutely indispensable. Beginning during Reconstruction, passing effortlessly through the Plains Wars and ending shortly after Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency, Tom Calvin’s history of the era is as expansive as it is detailed. The main narrative focuses on Wyatt Earp & Bat Masterson, but between the two lawmen they encountered most all of the Western legends including Buffalo Bill, Doc Holiday, and even Jesse James. And as if all that isn’t enough, the individual stories are all told in a manner that makes them as exciting as any good Western. I’d recommend listening to chapters in short bursts, as it makes the text feel more like a series of short stories with reoccurring characters than one single history.
As for the narration, John Bedford Lloyd does a spectacular job. His deep and smoky tone blends well with this sort of material. What are you waiting for? Beyond highly recommended!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful