Mary Doria Russell

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Mary Doria Russell

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in The United States
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November 2011

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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 · 75,829 ratings · 10,516 reviews · 6 distinct works · Similar authors
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4.17 avg rating — 37,884 ratings — published 1996 — 37 editions
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Doc

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Epitaph

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More books by Mary Doria Russell…

A while back, I posted about what might well be a photograph of Doc Holliday taken shortly before his death from tuberculosis. Whoever that poor soul really was, his neck is neatly wrapped in white cloth. It was not a fashion statement; it was a bandage. It covered the kind of open sores that can result from TB-infected glands, but its resemblance to the male neck wear of the Romantic period is...

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The Sparrow Children of God
The Sparrow (2 books)
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4.14 avg rating — 50,348 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 Doria Russell wrote a new blog post
A while back, I posted about what might well be a photograph of Doc Holliday taken shortly before his death from tuberculosis. Whoever that poor so... Read more of this blog post »
" He might actually have said that, but it might well have been somebody else who was appalled by his doctors' refusal to believe in the germ theory of ...more "
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" Thank you, Paul. On the up side, the Washington Post listed Epitaph as one of2015's best novels, so that's good! "
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 »
Mary Russell and 6 other people liked Regina Lindsey's review of Epitaph:
Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
"Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
5 Stars and a heart

Let me start by saying that I resisted with every ounce of my being reading Doc. While you all know I adore history, I’ve never been a fan of this particular era. Russell’s description of this era as..." Read more of this review »
Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
"There are books with opening lines or paragraphs that stick in collective memory. Call me Ishmael. It was the best of times. And now "To understand the gunfight in Tombstone stop-now-and watch a clock for thirty seconds." The first page of Epitaph..." Read more of this review »
" Well, this photos would be 15 years apart, so the older man's hairline could have receded a little more. And the brows are seen from slightly differen ...more "
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

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