Boessenecker cuts through years of debate about who the good guys were in the Tombstone wars with fact ... The big clash came on October 26, 1881, when the Earps and Doc Holliday, fed up with Cowboy threats, went to disarm them at an empty lot near the O.K. Corral. The ensuing fight left all the participants except Wyatt wounded and three of the Cowboys dead. Boessenecker’s account of what happened at the gunfight and its legal aftermath are models of lucidity ... Boessenecker doesn’t give Wyatt a free pass for his vigilante actions, but like most of us who try to project ourselves back into the time of Earp, he also doesn’t condemn him for passing sentence on killers who would otherwise have gone unpunished. Ride the Devil’s Herd presents the evidence, and invites the readers to make their own judgment. I do wish that Boessenecker had not chosen to use Earp/Cowboy conflicts as an object lesson for 21st-century law enforcement issue ... But this ill-advised foray into contemporary politics aside, Ride the Devil’s Herd is a rich and satisfying read, a significant contribution to Earpiana, an antidote to Clavin’s fanciful stew, and a book that unclouds the picture and shows us why these men became legends.
...Mr. Boessenecker’s aim seems to be to chronicle the Earps’ adventures with more accuracy and in greater detail than anyone before. He has unearthed a lode of primary sources, including hundreds of contemporary newspaper articles, as documented in his extensive notes. This thoroughness is impressive—more than once he itemizes the internal organs ruptured by assailants’ bullets—but the sheer weight of information sometimes threatens to overload the story. For serious readers of Western history, however, Ride the Devil’s Herd may well prove the gold standard.
...an exhaustive account ... Boessenecker overstuffs this granular history, clogging the narrative but providing a plethora of intriguing details about the politics, economics, and culture of the Old West. History buffs with a tolerance for tangents will be rewarded.