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Book Review: Ride the Devil’s Herd: Wyatt Earp’s Epic Battle Against the West’s Biggest Outlaw Gang

The little-known story of how a young Wyatt Earp, aided by his brothers, defeated the Cowboys, the Old West’s biggest outlaw gang.

Wyatt Earp is regarded as the most famous lawman of the Old West, best known for his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. But the story of his two-year war with a band of outlaws known as the Cowboys has never been told in full.

The Cowboys were the largest outlaw gang in the history of the American West. After battles with the law in Texas and New Mexico, they shifted their operations to Arizona. There, led by Curly Bill Brocius, they ruled the border, robbing, rustling, smuggling and killing with impunity until they made the fatal mistake of tangling with the Earp brothers.

Drawing on groundbreaking research into territorial and federal government records, John Boessenecker’s Ride the Devil’s Herd reveals a time and place in which homicide rates were fifty times higher than those today. The story still bears surprising relevance for contemporary America, involving hot-button issues such as gang violence, border security, unlawful immigration, the dangers of political propagandists parading as journalists, and the prosecution of police officers for carrying out their official duties. Wyatt Earp saw it all in Tombstone.

Published March 17th 2020 by Hanover Square Press

What did I think?

If you wanted a textbook like description of all things Wild West, this is your book. I found all the information intriguing, but was left wishing that it was longer (and at 512 pages- that’s saying something) It would have been nice to include more details about daily life in Tombstone.

That said, it has to be one of the best books on Wyatt Earp ever written. The author definitely did his research as there are so many small details included about the Earp family that I’ve never heard about, and I’m a die hard classic western movie fan.

By Jenny Naughton

JENNY NAUGHTON and her husband share their 1930's era Chicago home with four sons and a daughter. A voracious reader, Jen reviews books before their release for dozens of publishers on her page: Windy City Reader. Jen also blogs (on WordPress!) about classical, mostly secular, home education at Good Enough Homeschool.
In her spare time, she runs an online book club for teens and helps other home educating family match their kids with the perfect book for them.
You can find Jen misbehaving on social media on
Twitter: @jennynau10

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