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Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary…
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Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

by Mary Doria Russell

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Book Description
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . .

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.

Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.

My Review
This was another fun read by Mary Doria Russell and the sequel to her book, DOC. I suggest that you should read DOC first. Epitaph focuses more on Wyatt Earp and his brothers but we do get more information about Doc Holliday and interesting facts about medical and dental conditions in the 1880's. It is also an excellent escape book to the wild west days of Tombstone, Arizona and the gunfight at the OK Corral. I found the pacing of the book perfect and the characters were well drawn. I enjoyed Russell's writing and look forward to reading more books by her. I found the story well researched and I would highly recommend both DOC and Epitaph to those who love westerns. ( )
  EadieB | Sep 22, 2017 |
Except for the last section, dealing with Wyatt Earp's later years, I thoroughly enjoyed Epitaph, the sequel to Doc. This writer has a marvelous way of writing so that you feel you are in the midst of things. The narrative is superior to much historical fiction I've read. The tragic outcomes for most of the participants in the Gunfight at O.K.Corral underscore the violent lives these men led. We also get a glimpse into the lives of their womenfolk and the hardships they had to endure, physically and emotionally.

I didn't care for being jolted out of the Old West and into the twilight of Earp's life.shared with the increasingly disturbed Sadie. Perhaps my antipathy for her biased my opinion. Logically, I know the author had to wrap the story up somehow and this ending is appropriate, even if I didn't enjoy it.

Overall, a fascinating and worthwhile read that kept me turning pages almost to the end. ( )
  Zumbanista | Jun 5, 2017 |
Audiobook performed by Hillary Huber

From the book jacket: A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president scorned by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands … That was America in 1881.

My reactions

In a sequel to her earlier novel, Doc, Russell explores what REALLY happened at the OK Corral. The events and circumstances leading up to that fateful battle are disturbingly familiar. The gunfight itself lasted a mere 30 seconds, but the ramifications affected the survivors’ lives for the remainder of their days.

I love Russell’s writing. She does extensive research and is not content to give us only one side of the issues, or one facet of the characters involved: the three Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil, and their steadfast friend Doc Holliday. I particularly liked how she focused on the women who loved these men: Josephine, Alvira (Allie), Mattie, Bessie, Louisa, and Kate.

The chief characters in this novel are Josie Marcus and Wyatt Earp, and the last sixty pages, or so, relate Wyatt’s last years and Josie’s efforts to immortalize his role in the history of the American West. I found their story compelling, and it is made richer by Russell’s attention to all the other characters. From the blustering Johnny Behan to the drunken Ike Clanton, every character fairly leaps off the page. Yet, I must confess that what I really wanted was more of Doc.

Hillary Huber does a fine job performing the audio version. Her skill as a voice artist is put to the test with the many characters, but she is up to the task. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 30, 2017 |
$1.99 on Amazon today!
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
This brilliant novel starts by asking the reader to look at a clock for 30 seconds and “…imagine one half of a single minute so terrible it will pursue you all your life and far beyond the grave.” The most famous gunfight of the Wild West was fought in an alley near Tombstone’s O.K. Corral and took half a minute.

This novel is much more than simply retelling a familiar story. It kicks up the layers of dust around Tombstone. The dusty streets and rugged stagecoach rides, the silver mining, the holdups, and the wooden building so easily burned by fire and rebuilt by an involved rich community. Most of the bad guys were not that bad and most of the good guys were not that good. All were caught up in a series of slights, political maneuverings, and vengeance for perceived wrongs, and all had stories to tell and versions of events they believed to be the truth. Epitaph is as much the story of the Earp women, especially Sarah Marcus, as it is Wyatt’s or Doc’s.

Interestingly, and befitting the debate in our modern times, while gunfight itself boiled down to a personal vendetta, the fuse that lit the dynamite was the legal issue of gun control. By law, guns were not allowed in Tombstone, and Marshal Virgil Earp was attempting to enforce the law on those who refused to disarm, with the help of his deputized brothers and Doc Holliday. This law was also in effect in Dodge City when the Earps were the law there, as well. Additional tinder to this conflagration included the Earps being Yankee Republicans, while most of the population in Southern Arizona was Confederate Democrats. Federal, state/territorial, and local politics played a huge role in the background of the gunfight, too. Federal soldiers had no jurisdiction in certain areas, state marshals had limited jurisdiction, and local sheriffs were also limited in what they could enforce. And none of them were willing to work together unless it benefitted them politically. Even the Cow Boys, a gang of rustlers that rode into Mexico and stole cattle to fatten and sell in Arizona, exploited these limitations.

Mary Doria Russell extensively researched the events surrounding the gunfight, detailing decades leading up to and following this legendary event. This is a brilliant epilogue for Wyatt Earp and Sarah Marcus. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062198769, Hardcover)

Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . . 

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.

Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:23 -0400)

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