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Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

Doc: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Mary Doria Russell

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82210511,042 (4.13)505
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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Doc is historical fiction about the life of John Henry "Doc" Holliday, known for his role in the 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The events of this novel precede the famous gunfight, covering John's youth, his early career as a dentist and gambler in Texas, and later Dodge City, Kansas, his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his brothers, and life with his mistress, Kate.

Author Mary Doria Russell brings Dodge City to life; it's a rough and tumble town that will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched a movie western. Dodge has many colorful characters including corrupt officials, prostitutes, and cowboys. The Civil War is still fresh in everyone's minds, and tempers are never far from the boiling point.

John Holliday was well educated and an accomplished musician, when he decided to study dentistry. Plans to go into joint practice with his cousin Robert fell through when John became ill with tuberculosis. He moved west in search of a more hospitable climate. No doubt this prolonged his life considerably, but it also forced him into working as a dealer in a gambling hall, with dentistry more as a sideline. John's relationship with Kate is volatile, but the two can't seem to live without each other. And when John's tuberculosis flares up and he has a bad spell, Kate is always there for him.

In marked contrast to legend, author Russell portrays Doc as generous and kind, going to great lengths to help a friend in need or avenge injustice. Doc pays for a lavish funeral for a young man who died under suspicious circumstances, and does not rest until he has discovered the truth, at which point he takes care of it in true Dodge City style. His close friendship with Wyatt Earp inspires two life-changing acts of kindness. Russell recently published another book, Epitaph, which covers the gunfight and details of Earp's life, and I will definitely be reading that book soon. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Jul 19, 2015 |
Mary Doria Russell's fictional account of the life of gunfighter John Henry Doc Holliday contains more truth than any published biographies and probably even more than the actual events. ( )
  Unkletom | Jul 5, 2015 |
Author Mary Doria Russell takes a different spin on a controversial western icon in "Doc". John Henry "Doc" Holliday has been portrayed as a drunken, hot-headed "lunger" in most popular American books and movies about him. Russell shows readers a softer, more likeable Doc in this book.

Spanning from early childhood to basically the end of his days in Dodge City (and before the OK Corral), Russell peels layer after layer of Holliday's talents, foibles, and life. Holliday, as most would know, was trained as a dentist; Russell also educates readers about Holliday's talents as a pianist and Classical scholar.

Much of the early relationship with Wyatt and Morgan Earp is presented, as well. Earp fans will find as much to like about this book as those wanting to discover more about Holliday's life. I also enjoyed visualizing Russell's vivid descriptions of life in Dodge City, Kansas, in the late 1870's.

Though it plods along some in parts, those wanting to find out more about late 19th century western "heroes" will enjoy this book. Russell's writing style is clear, easy to follow, and will appeal to a wide audience. ( )
  coachtim30 | Jun 7, 2015 |
Historical fiction revolving around the legendary Doc Holliday and his pals, the Earps. Exhaustively researched and wonderfully written, I enjoyed the imagined interactions and dialog that Russell invents to fill in the blanks around known facts. Overall, this is a fascinating peek into the latter days of the American wild, wild west. I expect to read Epitaph by Russell soon - a sequel of sorts that focuses more on the events leading up to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. ( )
  ScoLgo | May 14, 2015 |
This was just an incredible book. Just got Epitaph but wanted to read Doc first. So much I didn't know about Doc Holliday. How can you not love a book that starts "He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle." Now, can't wait to get to Epitaph! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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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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