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Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Doc (edition 2012)

by Mary Doria Russell

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1,0321358,214 (4.11)580
Authors:Mary Doria Russell
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

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Doc by Mary Doria Russell


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A fictional account of Doc Holliday's life in Dodge City. I've heard of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (which happens years after this) but not enough to have preconceived notions about Holliday, the Earps, or any of the other real people in this novel. So I took the characters at face value, which is to say complex and sympathetic and fascinating. I don't know how much of the events in this book actually happened, but that's not really important because it's a good story in general. I also learned a bit about 19th century dentistry, which was cool. Recommended, even if you're not a fan of westerns (which I am not).

A note on the audio: Mark Bramhall was superb. The subtle differences between the Earp brothers' voices were especially impressive. I could always tell who was talking, and they all sounded completely natural. Definitely going to keep an eye out for other books he's read. ( )
  melydia | Jun 23, 2017 |
Well researched, extremely well written. Mary Doria Russell is a talented writer who brings Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers alive on the page. I felt like I was back in time living in the wild west of Dodge City, Kansas. Glad I read it. ( )
  cjservis | Jun 15, 2017 |
Doc tells the story of Doc Holliday's time in Dodge City, when he met the Earp brothers. Russell has a way of bringing history to life and making all her characters talk and act like real people, rather than legends (even the horses are characters in their own right). It's obvious she's done her research. This was a thoroughly absorbing story and a real pleasure to read. It was also a bit of a whodunnit, a nice bonus. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Epitaph, which tells the story of the fight at the OK Corral. ( )
  sturlington | Dec 22, 2016 |
A wonderful fictionalized history of Doc Holiday.

Everyone has heard about Doc Holiday and the shootout at the OK Coral - but for the most part, its made up. While the Doc and the Earp brothers did exist, the real story is considerably more interesting.

Doc Holiday was just a child when the Civil War ended. His Mother died of Tuberculosis, which she gave to her son. Doc went to school for dentistry (because medicine was nothing but quackery, according to his uncle) and ended up in Dodge City practising dentistry and playing cards to make up for the lack of dental customers.

Doc is an amazing man. He was educated, ever the Southern Gentleman, but treated everyone based on their merit, even those with mixed blood, or of a different enthnicity. He was a gambler, a reader, a musician, and the go to person for advice. The other characters, from Wyatt Earp to his partner Maria Katarina Harony, a noble lady brought to the lowest of the low, are written with great care.

A story like this could be depressing - Doc, dying of Tuberculousis, with only a whore as his companion. But the author kept the story moving - using the vernacular of the day (a bit salty and sometimes offensive to modern readers). The characters manage to have deep emotional lives, but stay to true to the impassive demeaner of someone who lives life at the edge of society.

Mary Dora Russell did her research - the story is well written and stays (mostly) within the bounds of history. In her Author's Notes at the end of the book, there is a detailed bibliography as well as where she took liberties with the story.

A very enjoyable read. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Oct 23, 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.
First words
He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle.
Ignore it, deny it, or fight it, change was inevitable.
He was, he believed, no longer prone to the paralyzing bouts of homesickness that used to overwhelm him, when the yearning for all he had lost was so powerful that his only defense was to hold himself still until the sorrow washed through him and left him empty again.
The heat was building under the roof of the hotel, but the air was dry and not so hard on him as the murderous swelter of a Southern summer. He closed his eyes and listened to the strangely lulling concert that Dodge in daylight produced. The brassy bellow of cattle, the timpani of hooves. A cello section of bees buzzing in the hotel eaves. The steady percussion of hammers: carpenters shingling the roof of a little house going up on a brand-new street extending north from Front.
The sunset beyond shone vermilion through the dust.
If you knew what was what, you made damn sure there was money sewn into seams, or gems hidden in hems—
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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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