asher63 (asher63) wrote,
asher63
asher63

Two Books About Gunfights

Epitaph: A novel of the OK Corral, by Mary Doria Russell.
This is the detailed and fascinating story of the events that led to, and followed, the legendary gun battle on the afternoon of October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona. It is presented as a work of fiction; the author acknowledges having "trifled with strict fact ... for the sake of narrative pacing or imaginative elements". Nevertheless, it's clear that MDR has absorbed enormous amounts of information and taken great pains to give us a book that's both historically accurate and a compelling story. 'Epitaph' is an ensemble piece: while the figures of Wyatt Earp and Josie Marcus (Wyatt's common-law wife) take center stage, all of the persons involved - Johnny Behan, Mattie Blaylock, Doc Holiday, the McLaurys, the Clantons, and the other Earp brothers - emerge as rich, flesh-and-blood characters. With bits of information gleaned from newspapers, telegrams, letters, public records, and historical sources, Russell has crafted the finest drama. Audiobook listeners are treated to a virtuosa performance by voice artist Hillary Huber on the Audible edition; her reading resolves every one of the men and women in the book, with their various accents - Western, Southern, Spanish, Yiddish, Hungarian. The voices of Doc Holiday, Mattie Blaylock, Ike Clanton are each instantly recognizable and unmistakable.

13 hours in Benghazi: The inside account of what really happened, by Mitchell Zuckoff et al.
Another place, another time: 131 years later and 7,000 miles away, four Americans lost their lives in a fierce firefight when islamist forces overran a secret US outpost in the lawless desert badlands of Libya. The narrative traces the events that foreshadowed the September 11, 2012 attacks through interviews with survivors and available documentation. Despite the politically charged nature of the event, the author steers clear of partisan politics and sticks with verifiable facts. While news accounts have given a fragmentary and disturbing picture of what happened when islamist zealots overran two covert American facilities, this book gives a gripping but clear-minded account of the siege, defense, and evacuation of the facilities. Four Americans lost their lives, but many more were rescued.

In Benghazi, as in Tombstone, the availability of coveted resources (silver or oil), and the fickleness of the great powers whose attention those resources aroused, figures prominently. So too does the role of the press. The battles were shaped by the men who fought them, and those men's characters were shaped by their upbringing and their spiritual lives. And looking back, each battle was in reality two battles: the gun battle amongst men on the ground, and the wider, longer battle for the memory, meaning, and legacy of that fight.
Tags: books, history
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