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Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

Doc: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Mary Doria Russell

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9571309,064 (4.12)552
Title:Doc: A Novel
Authors:Mary Doria Russell
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Doc Holliday, Tombstone, Dodge City, American West, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, Earp brothers

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Doc by Mary Doria Russell


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Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
This historical fiction about Doc Holliday and his contemporaries is a fascination tale. The author uses language that is just right for the time, and the story moves along at an entertaining pace. I like that there is a listing of characters at the beginning of the book, telling who is real and who is fictional. And a great many of the characters, of course, were real people of the era.

Most of the characters, including Doc, are not all good and not all bad, but some of both. Life in Kansas was hard, beating children was pretty normal, and women had an especially hard road. Russell made it all come alive. There are no cardboard characters in this book.

My only complaint was that the story had little detail after Doc moved on. I wanted to know more about his last years. My fault – I didn't realize there was a sequel, Epitaph. That one is going on my to-be-read list.

I listened to an unabridged audio version of this book, borrowed from the local public library. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Aug 27, 2016 |
Again darn you GR for not having 1/2 stars! This was more a 4.5 star book for me, but the quality of the writing and the thoroughness of the storytelling were enough to nudge me toward the 5th star rather than going down to only 4 stars. I am a huge fan of the film "Tombstone" and have seen it at least two dozen times so this book was especially fun for me to insert the actors' voices from that film into the characters in this book. An all around great read. Nice change of pace and genre for me and I definitely recommend it to others. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Do you know the story of the Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and the O.K. Corral? I knew of it, sort of. But none of the details. I certainly didn't know anything about the Earp Bros. and Holliday when they lived back in Dodge City, Kansas years before the shootout in Tombstone. This book, Doc, is the partially-fiction, mostly-non-fiction retelling of their days on the western Kansas frontier.

It was after I finished reading The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell's debut novel, that I put her on my radar as an author to watch. Furthermore, I love stories of the American West so it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to this book. For the first third of the story, though, I had difficulty connecting with the characters—everyone's motivations seemed so disparate, which I suppose makes sense due to the story's historical basis—but by the end I was in love with all of them. MDR has a blessed gift for dialect. The banter from late 19th century Dodge City, Kansas is spot on. At least as far as I can tell. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Aug 5, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book. I learned things about Doc Holliday I never knew like his cleft pallet. The author did a nice job of getting into the meat of who Doc was. He was an accomplished pianist. He had passion to help people and he was a card shark. The book was a little long and at times I felt like I was reading non-fiction instead of a historic fiction. It seemed like she did her research on Doc and the other characters. I always forget that people like this were alive in the late 1800s and possibly could have been alive when my grandparents were alive or around when my parents were born. It's hard to get the brain wrapped around the country being that uncivilized not very long ago. It's a good read if you want to learn a little bit of American history and Doc Holliday. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
Doc primarily takes place in Dodge City, Kansas in 1878 where John Henry “Doc” Holliday is hoping to make enough money gambling to open a dentistry practice with his cousin. The majority of the story is true, but the book is a historical fiction novel about the life and times of Holliday, known in history for his association with the Earp brothers. He and the Earps are famous for the shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, but that is not the focus of Doc." Russell begins and ends her book with single chapters that give the highlights of Doc's life before and after her story's setting in Dodge City, Kansas.

Doc, a Georgia native suffering from tuberculosis, moves west for his health, making his way to Dodge City to play poker and work as a faro dealer. There he takes up with the Earps, a prostitute named Kate, and a mixed race boy named Johnny Sanders, whose death in a suspicious barn fire lead both Doc and Wyatt to investigate why everyone else was able to escape the fire in the Famous Elephant Barn but this young man died.

The author fills her story with a wealth of both fictional and historical characters to create a riveting look into some of the most interesting personalities in the Old West, including the Earps and Bat Masterson. There is plenty of rich historical data included with the fictional portions of this story and the two meld together to make the story very real.

Doc Holliday was a very complex person. In this novel we get a detailed picture of a loquacious, tubercular man who seems always just a step away from death. He was a highly educated and cultured Southern gentleman with a weakness for sartorial affectations and a love of fine literature, beautiful music, and foreign languages. He also knows that he is a dying man. At one point he meets a young woman who doesn't yet know she has tuberculosis but Doc recognizes her symptoms. He discourages her visits to him while he is ill because he feels he is “the ghost of Christmases yet to come.” Doc's tuberculosis is almost a character of its own.

The interaction between the characters and the beautiful turns of phrase makes this book a wonderful reading experience. The old west and Doc Holliday vividly come to life as do all of the characters. Kate, who was also known as Katie Elder and “Big Nose” Kate, worked as a prostitute even as she was living with him. She maintained a complex relationship with Doc who considered her his intellectual equal.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it for a fascinating look at the complicated man behind his legend.

" ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jun 16, 2016 |
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For Art Nolan, who told me what Wyatt knew; for Eddie Nolan, who showed us what John Henry had to learn; for Alice McKey Holliday, who raised a fine young man; with thanks to Bob Price and Gretchen Batton.
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He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle.
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Book description
The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.

And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp really begins—before Wyatt Earp is the prototype of the square-jawed, fearless lawman; before Doc Holliday is the quintessential frontier gambler; before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology—when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.

Authentic, moving, and witty, Mary Doria Russell’s fifth novel redefines these two towering figures of the American West.
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After the burned body of a mixed-blood boy, Johnnie Sanders, is discovered in 1878 Dodge City, Kansas, part-time policeman Wyatt Earp enlists the help of his professional-gambler friend Doc Holliday.

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