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Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

Doc: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Mary Doria Russell

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9201249,529 (4.12)542
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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I’m a huge Mary Doria Russell fan and I was very interested in learning more about an enigmatic historical figure (in a fictionalized format that I can more easily digest). The time period of the story covers Doc’s residence in Dodge City, Kansas – and I know that the stories of the Earp brothers and John Holliday are intertwined - but I couldn’t help feeling that Wyatt and Morgan Earp stole the show. It was very distracting and made the story’s pace feel choppy and uneven. The purely fictional characters she invented to round out the story (Jau Dong-Sing and John Horse Sanders) were more compelling in my opinion that the Earps.

Russell paints a portrait of a very proud, intelligent, cultured and *young* dentist dying of tuberculosis. Also fascinating is the portrait of his disturbed mate “Katie Elder”, who was born to European nobility, the daughter of the court physician of Emperor Maximilan I of Mexico. Maria Katarina Harony deserves a book of her own.
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  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
4 1/2 stars (rounded down to 4 on my shelf)

Doc is the story of Doc Holliday's life from his childhood in Georgia until he makes the decision to travel to Tombstone (it does not include the incidents at the OK Corral, I assume that is covered in Epitaph). This was excellent historical fiction. Russell really brought the characters and their time alive. She took legendary figures such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp and presented them as real people rather than the larger than life characters they are often portrayed as. I appreciate the effort that Russell made to be as historically accurate about these men and women as possible given the information available about them ( )
  Cora-R | Apr 11, 2016 |
A completely different book for me from this author, yet she writes so powerfully. I felt like it was a real look into the life of these famous men. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Doc by Mary Doria Russell focuses on the early years of Dr. John Henry (Doc) Holliday, especially the time he spent in Dodge City, Kansas. In the notes at the end of Doc, Mary Doria Russell writes: "Arriving at the end of historical fiction today, the modern reader is likely to wonder, 'How much of that was real?' In this case, the answer is: not all of it but a lot more than you might think."(pg. 391) I appreciate knowing that she did her research and wrote historical fiction that follows historical fact.

Russell starts with Holliday's Georgia childhood through his dental training and the onset of the tuberculosis that sent him out west for his health. She does an excellent job of replacing many of the myths surrounding Doc Holliday with facts and showing us the man behind the legend - his struggles, disappointments, and precarious health. The descriptions of Holliday's struggles with tuberculosis are heart breaking. All the players in the well known story are here, but without the exaggerations found in the myths.

As I mentioned, this novel mainly focuses on Doc's time in Dodge City, KS. While the novel does not cover the infamous shot out at the OK Corral, it does briefly cover the end of his life. Anyone hoping for a more complete picture of Doc's whole life, may be disappointed with this. Since I have never been a huge fan of westerns, I thought the novel was brilliant in its focus on the part of Doc's life that set fate into motion and on to Tombstone, Arizona.

This is a work of fiction, but Russell includes a cast of "Players" at the beginning of Doc that shows what characters were real and which ones are fictional. The chapters in Doc are named after poker terms, which is clever because poker and faro are a huge part of much of the story.

Between the story and the writing, Doc will likely be one of the best novels of the year. This is a perfect example of historical fiction done right.

Russell ends the Author's Note section suggesting that readers who are touched by Doc's story should consider giving a donation to one of the organizations around the world that provide free surgical correction of cleft palates and cleft lips. You can follow the link above to Russell's website for information on the Smile Train where she and her husband chose to give a donation.
Very Highly Recommended - one of the best; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/

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  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Feb 25, 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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