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

May 31, 2013
BY Rebecca Schuman
By Ann Kirschner Harper 2013, 304 pages

053113_mishmash_bookThe heavy step of metal-soled boots kicking up early morning dust, the gleaming mouth of a silver gun, the swift flick of the wrist followed by a deafening bang and the hurried swish . . . of skirts?

OK, let’s be honest here and agree that most people don’t associate the Wild West with women.  It’s also probable that most people do not associate the Wild West with Judaism. In “Lady at the O.K. Corral” by Ann Kirschner, we meet Josephine Marcus Earp — actress, dancer and the common-law wife of the illustrious lawman, Wyatt Earp.

Josephine was an imaginative child with dreams almost as large as the country’s fulfilled Manifest Destiny. Fascinated by theater, she joined an acting troupe in San Francisco. Her talent led her to  legendary Tombstone, Ariz.  Her luck let her stay.

Josephine met Wyatt in 1888. Although the two were inseparable, Wyatt was known for his affairs and gambling. His loyalty to her was tested at the O.K. Corral — an audacious showdown over “a high stakes prize of money, power and Josephine Earp.” Later, Josephine and Wyatt traveled across America, including the “foreign lands” of Alaska.

Although Josephine never spoke publicly about her religious beliefs (as it could lead to potential danger), when Wyatt died in 1929, she buried him in a Jewish cemetery.

Ann Kirschner excels at bringing the Wild West to life in this enchanting story of a Jewish girl riding her way into womanhood, constantly pushing beyond boundaries toward freedom.

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