Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and John Wayne: what do these famous characters have in common? They are not who we think they are because of the legends that have grown up around them. From the 1860’s dime novels to the books, movies, and television shows, writers have altered, exaggerated and sometimes lied about these folk heroes. In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” the editor says, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” We will examine how the legends grew and how they impact how we view the past, act in the present, and build the future.
Before retiring from the Arizona Historical Society, Jim Turner worked with more than 70 museums in every corner of the state. He is co-author of the 4th-grade textbook The Arizona Story, and his pictorial history book, Arizona: Celebration of the Grand Canyon State, was a 2012 Southwest Books of the Year selection. Jim moved to Tucson in 1951, earned a M.A. in U.S. history from the University of Arizona, and has been researching and teaching Arizona history for more than 40 years. Jim is now an author/editor for Rio Nuevo Publishers, author of The Mighty Colorado from the Glaciers of the Gulf (2016) and Crater Lake and Beyond (2017).