THE ENGLISH WESTERNERS' SOCIETY
JANUARY 2012 BOOK REVIEW
This review first appeared in the Tally Sheet (Summer 2009, Volume 55, Number 3)
O.K. CORRAL POSTSCRIPT: THE DEATH OF IKE CLANTON
By Rita K. Ackerman. Talei Publishers, Inc. P.O. Box 25098, Honolulu, Hawaii 96825. Pages xii + 352, Chapter end notes, appendices, bibliography, index, 58 illustrations, 3 maps. ISBN 9713758-8-7. Also available from author at: $39.95 + s/h.
This is not “just” another book about the Earps, although naturally the Earps enter into the story of Joseph Isaac “Ike” Clanton. Historian Ackerman opens her work on the last days of Clanton with a brief treatment of the action at the O.K. Corral. One of the many questions many students of Earpiana have asked, myself included, is: in that gunfight why did not one of the Earps, or Holliday, shoot Ike Clanton? After all, he was there, and he had boasted many threats against the victors in that battle.
And again, the same question is posed when Earp and Holliday killed Frank Stilwell at the Tucson railroad depot: why did the Earp “posse” allow Clanton to live? These are two questions which certainly need to be considered in any biography dealing with Ike Clanton. And of course there are numerous other questions dealing with him and the rest who have become near icons in western history and fiction. In this work there are numerous other characters who are familiar to us, and some not so familiar, with the Earp saga, such as Commodore Perry Owens and J. V. Brighton.
Ackerman presents this end of life biography capably, showing her ability to research and pursue leads, study primary source materials, and come to solid conclusions. Her love of the subject shows through her writing as well, which is a plus for her. She follows Clanton’s life from the O.K. Corral through his untimely demise at the hands of detective J. V. Brighton.
The weakness in this work is that we learn nothing of Clanton prior to the O.K. Corral battle, but perhaps we should not expect that since the title infers it is his demise which is the focus of her writing. Still, a brief introductory chapter would have been helpful for those of us not too familiar with the early years of the Clanton family.
Another point which no doubt will raise the hackles of some is the use of the photograph purporting to show Wyatt, Virgil, James, Newton, Warren and Nicholas Earp, as well as B. Eever and Fred T. Perris. Ackerman states the identity of the men pictured is “controversial,” but according to the caption accompanying the photo it is a photograph showing all the “fighting Earps” save Morgan, who had earlier been killed. Apparently she accepts the identification of the man shown as Virgil Earp with no further question. The photograph is through the courtesy of the Richard and Iris Eapidus Western History Collection. It would be more interesting if the provenance of the photograph had been included.
The book of course is a must for the Earp “buffs” and anyone interested in dealing with Old West historical figures – and a mystery as well.
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