Mary Doria Russell

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Mary Doria Russell

Goodreads Author

in The United States


Member Since
November 2011


Mary Doria Russell is an American author. She was born in 1950 in the suburbs of Chicago. Her parents were both in the military; her father was a Marine Corps drill sergeant, and her mother was a Navy nurse.

She holds a Ph.D. in Paleoanthropology from the University of Michigan, and has also studied cultural anthropology at the University of Illinois, and social anthropology at Northeastern University in Boston. Russell lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband Don and their two dogs.

Mary is shy about online stuff like Goodreads, but she responds to all email, and would prefer to do that through her website.

Photo by Jeff Rooks

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Popular Answered Questions

Mary Doria Russell Well, the fact that my first book was about Jesuits in space didn't exactly help! Getting turned down by 31 agencies was awful and I probably should…moreWell, the fact that my first book was about Jesuits in space didn't exactly help! Getting turned down by 31 agencies was awful and I probably should have given up, but ultimately it worked out. The Sparrow will be reissued with a 20th anniversary edition next year.(less)
Mary Doria Russell Oh, Lord! NO! Not that one. As you'll learn at the end of Epitaph, the movies of the 1940s-1980s present very inaccurate portrayals of what happened…moreOh, Lord! NO! Not that one. As you'll learn at the end of Epitaph, the movies of the 1940s-1980s present very inaccurate portrayals of what happened in Arizona in 1881 and why.

The best movie is "Tombstone" with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. There are factual errors in that as well, but it's the closest to reality. There is a great deal of operatic violence at the end, but that's the way the American mythology about the gunfight has evolved. If you watch that movie, then you'll be aware of how the story has been simplified into Good Guys versus Bad Guys.

All the characters in Epitaph are real. I tried to be fair and compassionate to every one of them, but I was also writing about how the gunfight became central to American beliefs about the West. You can see how this plays out in contemporary politics, as well. I hope you like the book.(less)
Average rating: 4.07 · 82,352 ratings · 11,311 reviews · 7 distinct works · Similar authors
The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)

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Children of God (The Sparro...

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A Thread of Grace

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Dreamers of the Day

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Ballantine Reader's Circle ...

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More books by Mary Doria Russell…

I’ve been getting queries about inscribing books for holiday gifts and the answer is, “You buy ’em, I’ll sign the hell out of them for you.” That said, the easiest and probably cheapest way to get a signed book is to order from Mac’sBacks.

There’s a COMMENTS box at the end of the order form where you type in if you want just a signature or an inscription l...

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Published on December 03, 2016 07:51 • 88 views
The Sparrow Children of God
The Sparrow (2 books)
4.14 avg rating — 54,293 ratings

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March 2015, Mary Doria Russell
"Her Favorite Westerns: Not just for gunslingers, the real Wild West comes to life in these five frontier tales recommended by the author of Epitaph." ...More

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Mary’s Recent Updates

Mary Russell is now friends with Ben Dictus
" Our vet says the Little Dude (Sammy, the brown one) is closer to 10 than to 3, which is the age the Rescue group guessed for him. His overall health i ...more "
" True story: while I was writing The Sparrow, I overheard my husband say, "She's totally in love with a fictional celibate. How much safer could sex ge ...more "
Mary Russell made a comment on TWO Ohioana Awards!
" :-D "
" Oh, it's lovely to hear that! Say hi to them for me.! "
" I wonder if the guy who wrote Soylent Green knew about the death room! (I have my Music to Die By all picked out and I'd watch the ocean waves.)

The f
...more "
Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
"A marvelous, epic, bittersweet novel. Mary Doria Russell uses a setting I know very little about and didn't think I'd care for (Arizona in the 1880s) as the backdrop for an absolutely fascinating story about history, friendship, politics, and diff..." Read more of this review »
More of Mary's books…
“I do what I do without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into acting decently.”
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

“How can you hear your soul if everyone is talking?”
Mary Doria Russell, Children of God

“The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions like Anne's are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we will be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God.”
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow


Which Classic SF/F Novel do You want to Discuss with the Group in June?

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