Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp
  • Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp
  • Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp

Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp

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by Ann Kirschner
     
 

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Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp by Ann Kirschner is the definitive biography of a Jewish girl from New York who won the heart of Wyatt Earp.

For nearly fifty years, she was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp: hero of the O.K. Corral and the most famous lawman of the Old West. Yet Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp has

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Overview

Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp by Ann Kirschner is the definitive biography of a Jewish girl from New York who won the heart of Wyatt Earp.

For nearly fifty years, she was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp: hero of the O.K. Corral and the most famous lawman of the Old West. Yet Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp has nearly been erased from Western lore. In this fascinating biography, Ann Kirschner, author of the acclaimed Sala's Gift, brings Josephine out of the shadows of history to tell her tale: a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention, and devotion. Reflective of America itself, her story brings us from the post–Civil War years to World War II, and from New York to the Arizona Territory to old Hollywood.

In Lady at the O.K. Corral, you’ll learn how this aspiring actress and dancer—a flamboyant, curvaceous Jewish girl with a persistent New York accent—landed in Tombstone, Arizona, and sustained a lifelong partnership with Wyatt Earp, a man of uncommon charisma and complex heroism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On an October afternoon in 1881, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, along with Doc Holliday, confronted a group of outlaws "in an open lot near the O.K. Corral" in Arizona Territory; the ensuing barrage of gunfire became the stuff of legend. The Earps and Holliday emerged as heroes, but standing in the shadows was Wyatt's fourth and final wife, Josephine, who, until now, was a specter of history. In this admiring and vivacious biography, Kirschner (Sala's Gift) brings the frontierswoman into the limelight. Born in New York City to Prussian Jews, Josephine (1860–1944) was a rebellious and lively young lady who disliked school but became "infatuated with the stage" after the family moved to San Francisco; there the aspiring thespian saw a performance of HMS Pinafore, and promptly joined a traveling acting troupe. By the time she was 20, Josephine had rolled into Tombstone, Arizona Territory, and met Wyatt Earp. The story follows the couple in search of new opportunities, from running a saloon in Alaska to getting in on the booming film industry in Hollywood. Kirschner's fascinating profile captures the restless spirit of the frontier as deftly as it does Josephine's energy, affection, and limitless appetite for adventure. 8-page b&w photo insert. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
From the dusty trails of the Old West emerges the story that Wyatt Earp's wife never wanted told: her own. A simple question from a friend about why Earp was buried in a Jewish cemetery prompted Kirschner (Dean of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY; Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story, 2006) to uncover the truth of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, the fourth wife and most constant companion of the famed frontier hero. The author mines letters, archives and manuscripts to tell Josephine's story, panning for gold in a very muddy family history. After the showdown at the O.K. Corral and long before his death, newspapers and local lore had already made a legend of Wyatt and his family, with plenty of controversy and inconsistencies to fuel it further. To make matters more complicated, beautiful and theatrical Josephine was hard at work on her own self-made myth, burying her poor, Jewish origins and obscuring the more tragic, scandalous and, consequently, interesting periods of her life. From Tombstone to Nome to Los Angeles, Josephine created a maze of challenges for her future biographers, all of which Kirschner handles skillfully. Even with all of the rootless couple's many adventures to recount, nearly half the book is an untangling of the drama that began just a few years before Wyatt's death in 1929 and continued through the rest of Josephine's life and into the next century. With vividness and certainty, Kirschner lays her story to rest at last. Tragedy, adventure, romance and scholarly investigation come together like pioneers to a boomtown, with something for Earp worshipers and casual readers alike.
The Forward
“Kirschner restores Josephine to her rightful historical place.”
USA Today
“Scrumptious is the only word to describe Lady at the O.K. Corral. This quick-paced biography has it all going on: sex, beauty, blood, guns, bad men and wild girls.”
American Jewish World
Lady is as engaging as a novel. She has provided a delightful, thoughtful account of a little-known woman who shared a half-century of devotion with a legend.”
New York Times Book Review
“Ann Kirschner has cleverly identified a parallel story buried under the debris of history: that of Josephine Marcus, for early 50 years Earp’s common-law wife and a valiant frontierswoman in her own right.”
Wall Street Journal
“Splendid.”
Express Milwaukee
“Ann Kirschner’s well-researched Lady at the O.K. Corral exposes what many never knew about Earp and his times, but also significantly repositions what we did know with a commanding narrative.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“Well-researched. . . . [An] engaging biography.”
King's Features Review
“Kirschner brings Josephine out of the shadows to at last tell her story, a colorful and spirited tale of ambition, grit, adventure and self-invention, all set against the exciting backdrop of the panorama of the West.”
Bismarck Tribune
“A colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention and romance.”
Julie Salamon
“Ann Kirschner brings a fresh, lively perspective to one of the great stories of the American frontier. Lady at the OK Corral reveals a fascinating intersection of Jewish history and the Wild West; its engaging narrative both celebrates and demystifies a legendary time and place.”
Thane Rosenbaum
“The story of Josephine Earp proves that even the best lawman in the Wild West needed a good woman to stand beside him, as improbable as their romance was, and as riveting a read as this book most certainly is.”
Jeff Guinn
“Thanks to Ann Kirschner’s brilliant Lady at the O.K. Corral, we finally have the definitive story of Josie Earp. . . . This is a must-read book for anyone who loves narrative nonfiction, or simply enjoys a hellaciously well-told tale.”
Bruce J. Dinges
“In this remarkable feat of historical sleuthing, Lady at the O.K. Corral paints a vibrant portrait of an uncommon couple whose love for one another and shared thirst for adventure took them to the farthest reaches of the Wild West during its blustery boom times.”
David S. Ferriero
“A tour de force in the detective work of biography Ann Kirschner writes Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp back into American history. . . . A thoughtful and entertaining addition to the history of the American West, Jews in America, and the role of women in society.”
Stephen Aron
“Engrossing. . . . The life of Josephine that unfolds so vividly in these pages is as colorful and complicated as that of Wyatt and hers, the reader will discover, was the more remarkable journey.”
Harriet Rochlin
“With a passion for research and an engaging flair for prose, Ann Kirschner has composed a biography of Josephine Marcus Earp that is a pleasure to read.”
Abigail Pogrebin
“In this vivid tale of romance and high drama, Ann Kirschner reveals the dark secrets of Wyatt Earp’s past and Josephine’s Jewish immigrant family.”
Hasia R. Diner
“A great piece of historical detection, Kirschner brings to life a woman who had previously been just a footnote, just an oddity. This book brims with the vibrancy of the Arizona Territory.”
Library Journal
The legends of the Old West town of Tombstone and lawman Wyatt Earp have been represented by Hollywood with questionable accuracy for decades, while tales of Earp and his brothers were common in broadsides and newspapers right from the start of their notoriety. Kirschner (univ. dean, Macaulay Honors Coll., CUNY; Sala's Gift) examines the prevailing narratives surrounding Earp, Tombstone, and the O.K. Corral to correct a historical record that effectively erased any mention of women having a meaningful impact on the premises. Without giving anything away, let's just say this biographical narrative of Josephine Marcus Earp clarifies the facts. Throughout, Kirschner raises questions about who was responsible for the omission of Josephine from the Earp story. Was Wyatt Earp's common-law wife of almost 50 years happy to avoid the spotlight? Or did she in fact desire attention? Like many subjects of legend, and those subject-adjacent, Josephine wanted the story told on her terms, and this, typically, ensured that her experience was never really revealed. Through deft analysis of primary and secondary sources, and through contacts with extant family members, Kirschner has corrected the narrative as thoroughly as possible. VERDICT Highly recommended for Old West enthusiasts and scholars, high school and up.—Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061864506
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/05/2013
Pages:
289
Sales rank:
1,247,963
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Jeff Guinn

“Thanks to Ann Kirschner’s brilliant Lady at the O.K. Corral, we finally have the definitive story of Josie Earp. . . . This is a must-read book for anyone who loves narrative nonfiction, or simply enjoys a hellaciously well-told tale.”

Abigail Pogrebin

“In this vivid tale of romance and high drama, Ann Kirschner reveals the dark secrets of Wyatt Earp’s past and Josephine’s Jewish immigrant family.”

Bruce J. Dinges

“In this remarkable feat of historical sleuthing, Lady at the O.K. Corral paints a vibrant portrait of an uncommon couple whose love for one another and shared thirst for adventure took them to the farthest reaches of the Wild West during its blustery boom times.”

Hasia R. Diner

“A great piece of historical detection, Kirschner brings to life a woman who had previously been just a footnote, just an oddity. This book brims with the vibrancy of the Arizona Territory.”

David S. Ferriero

“A tour de force in the detective work of biography Ann Kirschner writes Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp back into American history. . . . A thoughtful and entertaining addition to the history of the American West, Jews in America, and the role of women in society.”

Julie Salamon

“Ann Kirschner brings a fresh, lively perspective to one of the great stories of the American frontier. Lady at the OK Corral reveals a fascinating intersection of Jewish history and the Wild West; its engaging narrative both celebrates and demystifies a legendary time and place.”

Harriet Rochlin

“With a passion for research and an engaging flair for prose, Ann Kirschner has composed a biography of Josephine Marcus Earp that is a pleasure to read.”

Thane Rosenbaum

“The story of Josephine Earp proves that even the best lawman in the Wild West needed a good woman to stand beside him, as improbable as their romance was, and as riveting a read as this book most certainly is.”

Stephen Aron

“Engrossing. . . . The life of Josephine that unfolds so vividly in these pages is as colorful and complicated as that of Wyatt and hers, the reader will discover, was the more remarkable journey.”

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