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by Mary Doria Russell

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Series: Doc Holliday (1)

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1,26216311,407 (4.12)642
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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» See also 642 mentions

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Doc tells the story which took place prior to the events of Tombstone, in order to examine one of the most misrepresented man in history - Doc Holliday. Highly recommended. Russell is one of the strongest talents in literature right now. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
I read Russell's Epitaph last year on a lark, not really expecting to think much of it, since I've never thought myself a reader of historical fiction. I liked that one a lot and so thought I'd try her book about Doc Holliday. I liked this one a lot too. She really made me feel like I was sitting in a room with Doc, though I think she may be helped along some by the portrayal of a different doctor in the television series Deadwood, in whose voice I can't help but hear the prototype for the voice she here gives Doc. I read this for and as pure pleasure, not really paying much attention to whether I thought it was good or bad as literature; either way, I enjoyed it and will almost certainly pick up some more of her work. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are names that are linked together with gunfights and dust and the US West. In Doc Russell takes a look at their lives away from the O.K. Corral. How they came to know one another and their histories, together and apart. It is a story of violence, gambling, prostitution, dentistry, and tuberculosis, among many other things. And I loved it.
I bought this book back in 2012, when it was released in paperback, because I have loved all Russell's other books. But for some reason it sat on my shelf. And sat on my shelf, and I never even looked at it. But I spotted it while browsing and decided now was the time. So I picked it up.
And I loved it. So much.
I'm a quasi-fan of the western story. I think it can be a great setting, but it is also such a made-up time and place. Full of stories of hero cowboys and settlers who were responsible for murdering and displacing so many Native Americans. The whole Manifest Destiny thing was just such a horrendous belief that a lot of stories ignore. And too often the stories revolve around the white man, ignoring the women who faced the same, if not more hardships, and using all other races as either supporting cast or the villains of the piece. And this is the story of one of those white men, Doc Holliday, so it could very easily have been one of those stories.
Instead Russell uses Doc to explore the whole society of Dodge City. It is, still, the story of Doc himself, so yes, it does revolve around a white man. But at least here we really get to see a lot of what the women had to go through. And, to a lesser extent, how a black man or a Chinese man, or anyone not a white man, had no value to many.
I really loved the way Holliday points out to Wyatt what he should have realised, that the women of Dodge City, prostitutes or wives, all have stories of their own. Their own past and history, and often those pasts weren't very pleasant.
It is just such a wonderfully written book that reading Doc felt like being enveloped in the pages. And in such beautifully told, moving story. Yes, there is violence and death, illness and more death, but somehow it was just such an enjoyable read. I am really tempted to begin it all over again, but my Mount TBR will not let me. Not yet. It is a book that I think will seriously reward a reread. And a reread after that.
It will, however, disperse and romantic notions you may have about "the consumption". In some novels tuberculosis is depicted as almost a romantic death, that is not how it appears here. It is a horrible, painful, miserable death, that follows a painful, distressing illness. And one for which, back then, there was no cure.
As to whether the book is true? Well, that I don't know, but Russell has done a lot of research and it is certainly true to the spirit of the story. Maybe the facts aren't always correct, but when are they ever? ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Doc Holliday is a fascinating character-not at all the typical Wild West character I had categorized him with in my mind. I learned a lot about the era along with something about the art of dentistry of that day and TB. Overall a very worthwhile read! ( )
1 vote Cricket856 | Sep 22, 2020 |
Great fiction based on the real life of Doc Holliday ( )
  JohnKaess | Jul 23, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Doria Russellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This book is fiction, but there is always a chance that such a work of fiction may throw some light
on what has been written as fact.
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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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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