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Roberts, Gary L. 1942-

Roberts, Gary L. 1942-


Born 1942.


Writer, historian, and educator. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, GA, professor emeritus of history.


(Editor, with Harold P. Henderson) Georgia Governors in an Age of Change: From Ellis Arnall to George Busbee, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1988.

Death Comes for the Chief Justice: The Slough-Rynerson Quarrel and Political Violence in New Mexico, University Press of Colorado (Niwot, CO), 1990.

Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.


Author and retired history professor Gary L. Roberts is the author of a biography of one of the American West's most storied characters: dentist, lawman, gambler, and gunslinger John Henry "Doc" Holliday. Roberts bases his account on extant newspaper reports, public records, and other primary sources, since Holliday left no memoirs, and personal letters and other documents have been destroyed. Holliday was born in Georgia in 1851. Roberts recounts his early life and how he was thoroughly a product of his culture, which endorsed rugged manliness. Holliday grew up during the American Civil War and afterward earned his doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree from the College of Dental Surgeons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with an education, Holliday also acquired a taste for alcohol, gambling, women, and violence. The author looks at how and why Holliday headed west and how the tuberculosis that plagued him drove him to seek a drier climate that might help extend his life. Roberts also closely examines signal events in Holliday's life and legend, including the notorious 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral. Roberts carefully considers the facts associated with Holliday, and where the facts are lacking, he offers thoughtful speculations and possible alternatives that fit with available evidence. By the time tuberculosis claimed him at age thirty-six, Holliday had made an indelible stamp on the popular perception of life in the raucous, violent American West.

"You can't beat this story for drama," mused a Publishers Weekly critic. Booklist reviewer David Pitt called Roberts's book an "engagingly written, persuasively argued, solidly documented work of scholarship." Roberts himself notes that because of the profusion of material on Holliday, both factual and fictional, his exhaustive book will still not be definitive. However, Stephen H. Peters, writing in Library Journal, named it "an attempt—and a very sound one—to understand a man whose biography and legend will be forever entwined."



Booklist, March 15, 2006, David Pitt, review of Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend, p. 10.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Stephen H. Peters, review of Doc Holliday, p. 80.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006, review of Doc Holliday, p. 50.


Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Web site, (December 10, 2006), author profile.

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