The author of the acclaimed Sala's Gift delivers the definitive biography of Josephine Marcus Earp, a Jewish woman from New York who became the common-law wife of famed lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. For nearly fifty years, she lived with the most famous lawman of the Old West. Yet Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp has nearly been erased from Western lore. In this fascinating biography, Ann Kirschner brings Josephine out of the shadows of history to tell her full story--a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, selfinvention, and romance reflective of America itself, from the post-Civil War years to World War II. How did this aspiring actress and dancer--a flamboyant, curvaceous Jewish girl with a persistent New York accent--land in Tombstone, Arizona, and steal the heart of Wyatt Earp? What inspired five decades of adventure-seeking that led from the Arizona Territory to Alaska to Hollywood? And what sustained her lifelong partnership with a man of uncommon charisma and complex heroism? Answering these questions, Kirschner offers a rare look at a woman's life on the frontier and sheds new light on the iconic gunfight that made Wyatt Earp a legend, revealing Josephine's place at its center. Lady at the O. K. Corral introduces a vivacious woman with a magnetic personality who was equally at home in the deserts of the American Southwest and the boomtowns of the Alaskan Gold Rush; in the opulent hotels of San Diego and San Francisco in the Gay Nineties; in rough mining camps, gaudy gambling casinos, racetracks, and boxing arenas; as on Hollywood back lots visiting Cecil B. DeMille and Samuel Goldwyn. Spanning more than half a century, this engaging narrative biography brings Josephine to the forefront of her own story and offers a fresh look at a remarkable era in American history.
"Do you know why I write so much? Because as long as you read, we are together. "-- Raizel Garncarz (Sala's sister),April 24, 1941Few family secrets have the power both to transform lives and to fill in crucial gaps in world history. But then, few families have a mother and a daughter quite like Sala and Ann Kirschner. For nearly fifty years, Sala kept a secret: She had survived five years as a slave in seven different Nazi work camps. Living in America after the war, she kept from her children any hint of her epic, inhuman odyssey. She held on to more than 350 letters, photographs, and a diary without ever mentioning them. Only in 1991, on the eve of heart surgery, did she suddenly present them to Ann and offer to answer any questions her daughter wished to ask. It was a life-changing moment for her scholar, writer, and entrepreneur daughter. We know surprisingly little about the vast network of Nazi labor camps, where imprisoned Jews built railroads and highways, churned out munitions and materiel, and otherwise supported the limitless needs of the Nazi war machine. This book gives us an insider's account: Conditions were brutal. Death rates were high. As the war dragged on and the Nazis retreated, inmates were force-marched across hundreds of miles, or packed into cattle cars for grim journeys from one camp to another. When Sala first reported to a camp in Geppersdorf, Poland, at the age of sixteen, she thought it would be for six weeks. Five years later, she was still at a labor camp and only she and two of her sisters remained alive of an extended family of fifty. In the first years of the conflict, Sala was aided by her close friend Ala Gertner, who would later lead an uprising at Auschwitz and be executed just weeks before the liberation of that camp. Sala was also helped by other key friends. Yet above all, she survived thanks to the slender threads of support expressed in the letters of her friends and family. She kept them at great personal risk, and it is astonishing that she was able to receive as many as she did. With their heartwrenching expressions of longing, love, and hope, they offer a testament to the human spirit, an indomitable impulse even in the face of monstrosity. Sala's Giftis a rare book, a gift from Ann to her mother, and a great gift from both women to the world.
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