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Wyatt Earp:  A Biography of the Legend, Volume I:  The Cowtown Years DustjacketThree Books In One!



Volume One: The Cowtown Years

By Old West Author and Firearms Historian

Lee A. Silva

is here


you can order your copy now

directly from the author!

  ISBN 0-9714719-0-8  Last six first editions copies will be sold at $ 200.00 each.


Hardback · 7 1/2 by 10 1/4 inches

995 pages · 376 photos · 82 maps and illustrations


Brand New Book

First Edition - Limited Printing

Signed by the Author

Personalized Inscription Included


with an introduction by

Elmer Kelton, Leon Metz, and Loren D. Estleman



Personalized Inscription Included


Voted Best Non-fiction book for 2002

on Lawman-Outlaw history by

The Western-Outlaw-Lawman History Association (WOLA)


Named as one of three finalists in the prestigious Spur Awards

given by the Western Writers of America Association

in 2002



Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend, Volume I:  

The Cowtown Years, Page View

Three Books in One


 Wyatt Earp's Pre-Tombstone Years


 The Evolution of the Gunfighter


 The Wyatt Earp / "Buntline Special" Controversy


Finally, the real facts about the Wyatt Earp legend….


Wyatt Earp, A Biography of the Legend, Volume One, The Cowtown Years, Cover ViewFueled by Stuart N. Lake's watershed 1931 biography titled Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, by the 1950s TV series titled The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, and by dozens of other books and movies, the legend of Wyatt Earp is unique in that it has continued to mushroom into bigger and bigger mythology and international public interest while most other Old West legends have faded into the past.

This visually-stunning book by Lee A. Silva is the result of fourteen years of research, and it is the first of four volumes on the continuing controversies that surround the life and legend of Wyatt Earp. Wyatt Earp, A Biography of the Legend, Volume One: The Cowtown Years covers the life of Wyatt Earp from his birth in Monmouth, Illinois in 1848 thru the year 1879 just before he moved to Tombstone, Arizona. (Wyatt Earp's years in Tombstone will be covered by Silva's forth-coming, second volume in this series, Tombstone, the Legend-Making Years.)

Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend Sample Page View Doc HollidayRather than write a traditional biography, Silva has chosen to include all of the controversies within the text, using direct quotes extensively in order to offer an in-depth analysis of the chasm between myth and reality, and between pro-Earp and anti-Earp sentiments.Silva has also included a short biography of Wyatt's gunfighter friend, Doc Holliday.

The book is printed on heavy, high-quality, glossy paper, and it includes over four hundred photos, so that the past can vicariously be "seen" as well as read about. As such, this book is intended to be a source for amateur historians and professional historians alike.


Three Books in One Volume


In order to create a deeply defined source book about the myths and controversies that surround the life and legend of Wyatt Earp, the author has added background material that also paints the picture of the social environment that created the violent era of the Kansas cowtowns. The result is that this special first edition of Wyatt Earp: A Biography Of The Legend, Volume I, The Cowtown Years, is actually three books in one:


* Wyatt Earp's Pre-Tombstone Years:

A detailed account of Wyatt Earp's pre-Tombstone life from his birth to his years as a lawman in Lamar, Missouri, Wichita and Dodge City. This section includes a mini-biography of Doc Holliday, and it concludes with Wyatt's journey to Tombstone at the end of 1879.Also included in this section is a flash-forward opening chapter that contains a bibliography of all previous books about Wyatt Earp. It also explains Wyatt's attempts to publish his life story during the years before his death in 1929.


Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend photo view Longhorn Cattle


bullet.gifThe Evolution of the Gunfighter


In Chapter 3 ("The Evolution of the Gunfighter"), in Chapter 5 ("The Toughest of the Tough"), and in Appendices "A" and "B," Silva uses over a hundred pages to detail the evolution of the Texas cattle industry from pre-Civil War times to the legendary post-Civil War cattle drives that began almost simultaneously with the advent of the cartridge six-shooter in the late 1860s and continued into the 1880s. Lee Silva explains how the trail drives of Longhorn cattle to Kansas created the brief "shoot-em-up" era of the cowtown railheads, which in turn created the era of the gunfighters and the legendary lawmen. Utilizing his lifelong research of Old West firearms, Silva gives detailed information about the types of six-guns that were most-often used, as well as the types of holsters and gunleather and how they were worn.  Using words and photos, the author clearly shows the difference between the actual Old West gunmen compared to the 1940s and 50s Hollywood stereotypes.

Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend photo view 



*The Wyatt Earp - Buntline Special Controversy



One separate legend that has almost outgrown the Wyatt Earp legend itself is the story of Wyatt's foot-long-barreled Colt .45 single-action revolver. According to Wyatt's "official" biographer Stuart N. Lake, sometime in 1876 pulp-fiction writer Ned Buntline (E.Z.C. Judson) presented Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, Bill Tilghman, and Neil Brown with these extra-long-barreled sixguns, which also had detachable wooden rifle stocks that could be fitted to the guns so that they could also be fired like carbines.


These five guns have become known as "Buntline Specials".


With a grim faced Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp packing an always noticeable "Buntline Special" around and conking bad-guys over the head with it during the 1950s Wyatt Earp TV series, a Wyatt "Buntline Special" revolver craze was created that still continues to grow in controversy as well as in legend.


The ongoing controversy about the famous extra-long-barreled "Buntline Special" Colt revolver is examined in over a hundred pages of facts, photos, and documents in Chapter 12 and Appendix "C." Both sides of the legend of whether or not Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, Bill Tilghman, and Neil Brown were actually presented with these "Excalibur" of guns is discussed. The history of the other extra-long-barreled revolvers that are definitely known to have been made by Colt is also covered. Based on the plethora of information that he presents, the author comes to the conclusion that the legend of Wyatt Earp owning a "Buntline Special" Colt revolver is true.


Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend photo view 

Buntline Special




Wyatt Earp, A Biography of the Legend:Volume One, The Cowtown Years features a detailed index and an extensive bibliography. This is a book that will appeal to Earp aficionados with the sheer amount of information that it presents. And if you are not so well-versed about the life and legend of Wyatt Earp, it is a book that will greatly enhance your knowledge of one of the Old West's most famous lawmen.

In our modem contemporary lexicon, phrases like "get out of Dodge," the reference to a dramatic showdown as "an O.K. Corral shootout," and referring to any fictional or real-Iife super-cop as "a Wyatt Earp" have become common-place.


This is where it all started.


Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend Sample PageView Wyatt Earp, Dodge City Lawman


Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend Spine View




Here are some unsolicited comments from satisfied customers who have bought and read Wyatt Earp, A Biography of the Legend:


"Fabulous! Beautiful book. It was worth the wait! I can't wait for the next one."

R.K., California


"Book far exceeded expectations! Astounding work!" C.N.W., Arizona


"This will be the standard work on Wyatt and the west for at least the next 100 years."

T.C., Tennessee


"Should become the standard reference on everyone's bookshelf on the man."

N.S., California


"I especially enjoyed your ability to reach conclusions and then to expand on the tiniest piece of detail to develop new theories…. It was just a virtual feast of information."

W.C., California


"Congratulations on a very impressive production in virtually every way."

B.T., Connecticut


"A much more useful book on the early Earp years than anyone has yet produced."

D.C. California


"It far exceeds any previous biography in its depth and scope of research and documentation."


"This first book is a terrific work that aims at separating the myth from the legend… I think almost anyone interested in the old west will be pleased with the photos liberally placed throughout the book. There are nearly four hundred photos of Wyatt, his brothers, the weapons they carried, the towns where the events happened, and many more."

J.B., California


"I find considerable pleasure just in leafing through a book of such material opulence."

B.T., Connecticut


And Praise from Other Writers and Historians:


If Lee Silva's absorbing and meticulously researched book is not the final shot, it is a significant one, and belongs in the library of any serious student of American history and legend.

Loren D. Estleman, President: Western Writers Of America; Western Writers Of America Spur Award winner; editor of American West, author of Bloody Season, and others.


"Lee Silva's work on Wyatt Earp establishes new approaches and interpretations that should intrigue many readers. Instead of straight narrative history, Silva presents the various controversies, along with loads of documentation. He includes many new sources and never hesitates to present the divers points of view about one of the West's most colorful personalities.  If readers disagree, they will do so in the face of multiple sources, many never previously used."


Don Chaput, Curator Emeritus, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, author of Virgil Earp: Western Peace Officer, The Earp Papers, and others.


"This volume is a big, heavy, beautiful book, the best job of publishing that this reviewer has seen in a while…. The author…is methodical in showing all of the versions of each episode that has been controversial through the years.

If you see this book, you will want to own it…

Every person with even a mild interest in Earpiana should own a copy of this book even if they have to throw away two or three others to make room for it."


Ben Traywick, Official Historian of Tombstone, Arizona; author of dozens of books about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Tombstone, gunfighters, and the southwest.



cowboyfun.gifWant to know more? Click on one of the following links to:


To order Volume One, click here

To learn more about author Lee Silva, click here

To read excerpts from the introduction of Volume One, click here

New!! Lee Silva's newest book, The Mexican Operation is now available! To learn more, click here

Volume II Read excerpts from the first chapter of Lee Silva’s forth-coming book, Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend, Volume II: Tombstone – The Legend-Making years. To read, click here

To contact us, click here



The forth-coming volumes by Lee A. Silva about the life and legend of Wyatt Earp will be:


bullet.gif   Volume II: Tombstone: The Legend-Making Years

bullet.gif   Volume III: The Forgotten Years

bullet.gif   Volume IV: The Last Years and the Legend



Wyatt Earp, A Biography of the Legend: Volume I, The Cowtown Years was published by Lee A. Silva and was produced in association with Graphic Publishers, Santa Ana, CA 97205.





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This website and contents are Ó2006 by Lee A. Silva