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Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City’s streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West.

Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clavin''s Dodge City tells the true story of their friendship, romances, gunfights, and adventures, along with the remarkable cast of characters they encountered along the way (including Wild Bill Hickock, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Theodore Roosevelt) that has gone largely untold―lost in the haze of Hollywood films and western fiction, until now.

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"Giving extensive background information about not only these two men but also their families and their lives before Dodge, the book presents a feast of history in the Mississippi area during the Civil War and the subsequent westward migration. Lloyd''s nuanced voice goes well with the engaging text. He enunciates clearly, is confident in expression and tone, and makes this a delightful listening experience for those who love the history of the Old West." - AudioFile Magazine

"
Read by John Bedford Lloyd, whose riveting narration makes the recording impossible to turn off." - ElectricReview.com

"Narration by John Bedford Lloyd is superb. This volume will appeal to anyone with an interest in the Old West''s myths and larger-than-life characters." -Library Journal

About the Author

TOM CLAVIN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has worked as a newspaper editor, magazine writer, TV and radio commentator, and a reporter for The New York Times. He has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and National Newspaper Association. His books include the bestselling Frontier Lawmen trilogy ―Wild Bill, Dodge City, and Tombstone―and Blood and Treasure with Bob Drury. He lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
1,222 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Ken Skinner
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I hated this
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2018
just one example ; the author has Doc Holliday, Billy The Kid , and Frank and Jesse James getting together for a poker game in Las Vegas , New Mexico. If you find this remotely plausible , you might enjoy this book. I don''t and didn''t
44 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Group of Fairy Tales
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2018
This book pretends at non-fiction, but much of what is reported is either fanciful or demonstrably untrue. The treatment of Tombstone and the "OK Corral" episode is criminal. Which brings me to my other complaint. Much of the book isn''t really about Dodge City, neither is... See more
This book pretends at non-fiction, but much of what is reported is either fanciful or demonstrably untrue. The treatment of Tombstone and the "OK Corral" episode is criminal. Which brings me to my other complaint. Much of the book isn''t really about Dodge City, neither is it a narrative. The book jumps around telling little stories and very brief bios of peripheral figures including Belle Starr and the inventor of the Colt handguns. I have no idea why this book is rated as highly as it is, but it is not due to historical merit.
41 people found this helpful
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Bill EmblomTop Contributor: Baseball
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Western History Classic
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2017
If you have books on the west in your personal library it will not be complete without this latest effort by author Tom Clavin which covers the years primarily from the early 1870s through the early 1880s. Dodge City came to epitomize the wild and wholly west during this... See more
If you have books on the west in your personal library it will not be complete without this latest effort by author Tom Clavin which covers the years primarily from the early 1870s through the early 1880s. Dodge City came to epitomize the wild and wholly west during this time period because the cattle drive coming up from Texas came here with the cattle drovers arriving by hurrahing the town and wetting their whistles in the local taverns. Guns and alcohol combine to make a deadly combination with local law enforcement having their hands full breaking up fights through "buffaloing" those that needed it and arresting the lawbreakers. "Soiled doves" were also in demand to to satisfy the "needs" of the "cow boys" were initially became a derogatory term.

The book concentrates primarily on Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson along with their family members. However, significant attention is also devoted to Luke Short, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Frank and Jesse James, Bill Tilghman, and, yes, even Eddie Foy who performed in Dodge City. Numerous women are also featured who were prominent in the lives of those mentioned above. The book contains sixteen pages of photographs and occupies a prominent place in the western section of my library. Do yourself a favor and buy the book.
35 people found this helpful
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Robin Wakeman Salmans
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Chronicle of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the “Old West”
Reviewed in the United States on March 13, 2018
Set in the American West of the 1870s, this is primarily a chronicle of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and other colorful characters. But it is also author Tom Clavin’s story of the frontier mores of the time, including hard drinking, gambling, and acceptance of prostitution... See more
Set in the American West of the 1870s, this is primarily a chronicle of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and other colorful characters. But it is also author Tom Clavin’s story of the frontier mores of the time, including hard drinking, gambling, and acceptance of prostitution (which apparently was no barrier to the marriageability of “soiled doves”). Two of Earp’s three wives were prostitutes.

Dodge City, Kansas, is the centerpiece of Clavin’s book, but one of the surprises was how far ranging were the careers of Earp, Masterson, their extended families, and other characters such as Doc Holliday. Depending upon the opportunities of the time, these men moved all over the West, from Texas to South Dakota, from Colorado to New Mexico to California. They were constantly on the lookout for quick riches in cattle or mining boom towns. As the “Old West” became tamed, Masterson adapted to city life and ended his career as a sports writer and newspaper columnist in New York City, dying in 1921.

Being a lawman in the 1870s didn’t preclude ancillary money-making activities, such as gambling and owning saloons and houses of prostitution. Indeed, many of the scrapes that Earp and Masterson get into seem to be based not on enforcing “law and order” but on power struggles with others who want a share of the profits from drinking, gambling, and whoring.

Clavin has apparently spent time researching contemporary accounts of both men’s careers. The violence was common, but Earp in particular preferred disabling an adversary by “buffaloing” (bringing the barrel of a heavy pistol down over an opponent’s head) rather than shooting him, and was well known for de-escalating dangerous situations through nothing more than a commanding presence.

The book’s numerous accounts of shootouts became a bit tedious after a while. I was surprised at the end of the book when Clavin suggests that Earp killed about ten men and Masterson about 20. By that time, the author had recorded so many gunfights and injuries that I thought the number was far higher. Moreover, Clavin traces the ultimate demise of nearly every subordinate character with whom his two principal protagonists tangle. This doesn’t always serve the pace of the narrative but it does underscore the many ways a man could die in the Old West.
14 people found this helpful
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Sean Neilan
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Wild West of Dodge City and Beyond
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2017
Interesting story. If you are a Gunsmoke fan, you will enjoy the true story of Dodge City. Actually, the book goes well beyond just Dodge City and really tells the story of the extended families and adventures of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. On the negative side, the... See more
Interesting story. If you are a Gunsmoke fan, you will enjoy the true story of Dodge City. Actually, the book goes well beyond just Dodge City and really tells the story of the extended families and adventures of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. On the negative side, the story can be difficult to follow because there are so many names, dates, who came from where, where they were going, etc., that it can be overwhelming to follow. That said, if you can keep that straight and stay with it, it all builds into a great story that is not a Hollywood ending with everything singing happy songs in the end. I enjoyed it.
37 people found this helpful
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Dallas Diver
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Earps and Mastersons Tame the Wicked West
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2017
This is a very readable and comprehensive history of the Earp and Masterson brothers, their families, wives and women. It tells the saga of their law enforcement and "other" activities that shaped the wild western frontier in the 1870''s and 80''s in Kansas, Arizona,... See more
This is a very readable and comprehensive history of the Earp and Masterson brothers, their families, wives and women. It tells the saga of their law enforcement and "other" activities that shaped the wild western frontier in the 1870''s and 80''s in Kansas, Arizona, California and Texas. These "bands of brothers" traveled the West like nomads, often bringing brothers along as deputies,and settled in cattle towns where their shootist skills, mutual support, courage, as well as gaming and "brotheling" skills allowed them to play a leading role in law, and in legally grayer areas. They settled, fought outlaws, and sometimes died in notorious western frontier towns like Dodge City and Tombstone. It also chronicles the tragic rise and fall of the "buffalo trade" through the experiences of young hunter Bat Masterson. The struggle to survive on the hard western frontier with limited resources and opportunities often drove both men and women to "cross the line" of legal and ethical behavior. That story makes this book an interesting read. The story presents many many strange and desperate characters to add spice to this compelling chronicle of life on the frontier.
8 people found this helpful
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J. Groen
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well Written and Enjoyable to Read
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2019
This is a well written book, and it is enjoyable to read on a very challenging subject. The author kept my interest, and the bouncing around, that others complained about was not an issue to me. There are a lot of conflicting sources and stories about what happened in the... See more
This is a well written book, and it is enjoyable to read on a very challenging subject. The author kept my interest, and the bouncing around, that others complained about was not an issue to me. There are a lot of conflicting sources and stories about what happened in the West in the late 19th century, so I won''t be too hard on the author regarding what I consider some of the inaccuracies of his book. In some instances, it is believing one source instead of another. There was one clear inaccuracy early where the author stated that the 1866 Indian War in Wyoming was due to a disagreement about the Black Hills. That was the 1876 Indian War. In 1866, the Indians led by Red Cloud were disputing the use of the Bozeman Trail which is just east of the Big Horn Mountains and used by individuals to go to the mining fields of Montana. Another story in the book that I disagree with is the one regarding the death of Ed Masterson on April 9 , 1878. The author claims that Bat Masterson came to late to Ed''s help with guns blazing and sounding like a gatling gun. He shot and killed one Wagner, who killed Ed, and seriously wounded Walker, his trail boss. There are some sources who agree with that, including a book written in the late 1950s and Wikipedia. However, Robert DeArment, who I consider an expert in this field, does not (and this book uses Robert''s book on Bat Masterson as a source?) DeArment debunks that claim and states that Ed Masterson was the individual who fired the shots that killed Wagner and wounded Walker before he died. I won''t go into the details of his argument but needless to say, he spends well over a page debunking the claim in this book. That isn''t the biggest tall tale in this book though, that one has to do with Billy "Bully" Brooks who was the non-elected Marshal of Dodge City in late 1872/early 1873. The author claims that Brooks killed five Texas cowboys riding into town meaning to shoot him down. Again, not according to Robert DeArment in his book, Deadly Dozen, Forgotten Gunfighters of the Old West in his chapter on Billy "Bully" Brooks. DeArment states that a tall tale teller by the name of Dubbs stated that four Texas cowboys came into a saloon and Brooks shot them down. However, there is NO corroboration of this story, in the papers, by other sources, etc. and Dubbs was known for his tall tales. As I mentioned, this is a difficult area to write about because of the multiple, conflicting sources. What makes it worse, is that the author doesn''t bring up any of these disagreements, so readers will believe that these tall tales are the truth. This is why I usually stay away from authors who write about other topics, e.g. sports, and then move into the are of the West in the late 19th Century and why I have no intention of reading his other book on this period on Wild Bill Hickok. By the way, I like the books that he co-authored on Valley Forge, and some of his other books and as I mentioned, this book is well written and enjoyable to read, the reason that I gave it 4 stars. However, its accuracy is questionable in many areas (others that I won''t go into).
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John Berry
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More Than Matt Dillon Ever Dreamed About!
Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2018
Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West This book starts out rather slow and a little hard to follow. The timeline for me was very difficult to keep up with as it meandered from the current topic to former... See more
Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West
This book starts out rather slow and a little hard to follow. The timeline for me was very difficult to keep up with as it meandered from the current topic to former topics. However, after about a fourth of the way through I sort of gave up on the timeline and just read about all the interesting characters. The author did a masterful job of telling all the little stories one most likely has never read about elsewhere or even heard about. Wyatt Earp developed into a character that was really more interesting then movies have made him out to be. I particularly enjoyed reading about Bat Masterson as well. Prior to reading this book, Masterson, was really nothing more than a character in a television series I recall watching as a youth. Bat Masterson turned out to be really one of the most amazing men I have read about involving the wild west and a lot more interesting then Wyatt Earp. One cannot help but be impressed with this book and again once I gave up on trying to keep up on what happened where and when, I found it very enjoyable. The author has packed a lot of information into this book and I really commend him on the product he has produced.

I really enjoy reading this book but I will say it is not as good as "The Heart Of Everything That Is" by the same author. However, don''t let this persuade you to not read Dodge City. If you enjoy reading about truly unbelievable wild west characters then this book is for you. Their bravery was totally amazing and I can''t imagine being in the predicaments they found themselves. The author also did a fantastic job of making the characters human and he relayed stories involving mischief that reminded me of myself and my friends growing up. The difference of course being, they were young men with enormous responsibilities, a gun, a code of honor and more importantly loyalty for each other.

As Doc Holliday might have said, "you''re a daisy if you don''t read this book!"
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Top reviews from other countries

stan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting historical book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2019
Interesting book
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Daniel Tennessee Grimshaw
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wonderful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 17, 2018
Great read
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John Manson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dodge City
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2021
The book was received in good condition and well packaged, i was very pleased with it.
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George Poirier
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Old West – As It Probably Was
Reviewed in Canada on August 10, 2017
Although the main focus of this book is Dodge City, its founding and evolution, there is so much more information packed into this tome to make it more of a history of the Old West – along with highlights of the lives of so many of its colorful characters. Although Wyatt...See more
Although the main focus of this book is Dodge City, its founding and evolution, there is so much more information packed into this tome to make it more of a history of the Old West – along with highlights of the lives of so many of its colorful characters. Although Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson are the main ones, including their brothers and their women, several other well-known legends are also featured to varying degrees. These include: Doc Holiday, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, the James brothers, Kit Carson, and so many more - many of whom I’d never heard of. I found the book highly informative and written in a prose that is friendly, lively, frequently humorous and often quite gripping. The author is careful in warning the reader at the outset about how fact and legend tend to be intertwined in much of the popular literature about the lives and times of these famous people. Consequently, he makes related comments throughout as to the veracity of some of the various stories are recounted. This book should be of particular interest to readers who are curious about what really happened in the Old West.
3 people found this helpful
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Frank
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
There''s no real story line here but a series of ...
Reviewed in Canada on April 11, 2017
There''s no real story line here but a series of vignettes and tales about a number of Old West personalities. Some may be true, some are based on legend and some highly embellished "news" stories which appeared at the time. It''s a decent read about a bunch of mighty...See more
There''s no real story line here but a series of vignettes and tales about a number of Old West personalities. Some may be true, some are based on legend and some highly embellished "news" stories which appeared at the time. It''s a decent read about a bunch of mighty quirky characters.
2 people found this helpful
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