Editorial: UA Press should issue an ultimatum on Earp book
For 23 years, the University of Arizona Press has been publishing a non-fiction book that has been repeatedly questioned by historians and could include a falsified source of information.
Titled "I Married Wyatt Earp," editor Glenn Boyer bills the book as a compilation of memoirs from Josephine Marcus Earp, wife of Wyatt Earp. UA Press has been publishing the book - which was its No. 2 bestseller in 1998 and has raked in about $114,000 -Øsince 1976.
Boyer claims he used two manuscripts for his book -Øthe Cason memoir and the Clum memoir. The Cason memoir, penned by Josephine Earp, is not being questioned.
But the Clum memoir -Øwhich has never been read by anyone except Boyer because he refuses to release it -Øis under fire and cannot be verified.
UA Press Director Christine Szuter has repeatedly defended the book, and said in February that its integrity is not in question.
But documents reveal that as far back as 1972, UA Press officials took issue with the validity of the manuscript.
Former UA Press editor Kit Scheifele wrote to Boyer: "In your earlier draft of the introduction, you made clear that the (manuscript) you have presented is not solely the first-person writing of Mrs. Earp, and that you have written a first-person account based on her memoirs and other material as well. In your new introduction, you no longer make this clear."
The book's published version does not indicate the use of additional letters and interviews.
The problem, however, continues to revolve around the Clum manuscript -Øor lack thereof.
Finally, officials at UA Press have decided to conduct a review of the book. If they find parts to be fabrications, they have agreed to cease publication.
Why Szuter and other UA officials have not demanded that Boyer turn over the manuscript is incomprehensible. Why copies of a "non-fiction" book that could be filled with rubbish is reprinted -Ønow for the 12th time -Øis equally ridiculous.
Szuter has agreed to make two slight changes in the book's latest reprinting: its cover will be redesigned, naming Boyer as the author and removing Josephine Earp's name. Also, a publisher's note will be added to the copyright page regarding sources used in the book.
Glenn Boyer has repeatedly refused to speak with reporters, instead relying on his wife as a shield.
In an interview with the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Jane Boyer said that her husband can do whatever he wishes with the Clum manuscript, including conceal it from the public. She also claims that her husband lost parts of the Clum manuscript during an earlier divorce, adding that "someone" has seen parts of it.
She refused to elaborate on the meaning of "someone."
The time has come for Boyer to put up or shut up. UA Press should get tough with this arrogant man and issue an ultimatum: Admit that the text is partly fiction or produce the appropriate documentation.
Otherwise, it's in UA Press' best interest to halt publication of the book before its credibility is destroyed and its reputation as an academic publisher is tarnished.
While UA Press may be forced to jeopardize further profit from the book and irritate the embattled Boyer, it may be the only way to finally publish the truth - something the public has deserved for many years.