Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Forgotten Books: THE EARP CURSE by Glenn G. Boyer (1999)

Boyer lists his serious Earp publications (in order) as Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp, I Married Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp by Wyatt S. Earp, and Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta.

His first book Illustrated Life of Doc Holliday, he insists was written as a "spoof" in the tradition of Mark Twain.

Without his work, Boyer says, "there would be a remarkable amount that we wouldn't know today. The work has now been accepted as a "given," in the why-everyone-knows-that manner. Such writers as Paula Mitchell Marks in her And Die In The West and Richard Erwin's The Truth About Wyatt Earp, both proceeded as though that were the case--due I suspect--due to profound ingornace-- as though what I'd discovered had always been known. This could also have been partly deliberate, to repay me for declining to help either of them. My work, whatever criticisms are made of it, has added to our sum of knowledge, rather than simply rearranged it, which is what such writers as Casey Tefertiller and Don Chaput have done."

"Most readers today, like the above writers, take my discoveries for granted. They proceed as though everyone had always known the details regarding Wyatt's second wife, who had been a suicide, and his third, who until I collected and edited her memoir had been no more than a name. They appear to believe that everyone always knew all about Doc Holliday's Woman, Big Nose Kate, Morgan Earp's wife, Lou, the true identity of Sheriff Johnny Behan and his extensive discreditable record, etc. The fact is that prior to my digging up their pasts and often their families, had been little but names and had been allowed to remain little more than that, as though the writers and historians concerned believed the world could never learn more about people who had lived so long ago."

"To the contrary, I brought all of those shadowy figures into the spotlight, with books on some and extensieve articles on others that contained information now firmly planted in the body of Earpiana. I usually did this by finding the still living families of the parties concerned, and for the most part found them wondering how writers could tell their stories without consulting them. The use of this material without attribution to my research helped make reputations for some."

Boyer goes on to mention many of the people he met and befriended, including several who had known Wyatt and Josie Earp well. These included family members and relatives of both those individuals, plus relatives and descendants of Johnny Behan, Big Nose Kate, Tombstone Epitaph editor John Clum  and many others.

Boyer's wife Jane Candia Coleman made great use of his research in her historical novels xxx and sss.

Boyer goes on to name twelve of these enemies, most of whom receive a full chapter detailing their sins against him. Several others also come in for some heat. 40% of the book is devoted to appendices, presenting supporting evidence in the form of letters, book promotion flyers, cancelled checks and other ephemera. In many places Boyer notes that events and conversations he describes have been preserved on video tape.

While he frequently attests that these betrayals and attacks have not perturbed him, the tone of the book makes it clear that they bothered him a great deal. Though he projects a sense of humor and personality throughtout, the overall tone of the book is bitter.