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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  6,136 ratings  ·  1,396 reviews
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 stran...more
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
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No offense to daises like Kirk Douglas, Victor Mature, Dennis Quaid or Sam Gilman**...but when it comes to Doc Holiday this will always be my huckleberry:

Tombstone is one of my favorite westerns movies of all time and I could give a rat’s rancid ass that it’s as hollywood a rendition of the Earp/Holliday story as there’s even this instance, Hollywood knocked the cover off the ball.

I wanted you to know where I was coming from vis a vis Doc so that you could put my review in some conte...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle. The disease took fifteen years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could not longer keep him alive. In all that time, he was allowed a single season of something like happiness.”

 photo DocHolliday_zps7b7a6bdf.jpg
Doc Holliday

This is the story of John Henry “Doc” Holliday. He is a lunger, a gambler, a fornicator, a gentleman, a killer, a dentist, and an accomplished piano player. He was a man capable of great violence one moment and compa...more
A youth in the South. An education in the North. Bred for life in the East. Trying not to die in the West.

This synopsis of the life of John Henry "Doc" Holliday is elegant in its simplicity and perhaps holds more truth about his life than the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about him.

I will confess that my earliest exposure to Doc Holliday was Val Kilmer's excellent portrayal in Tombstone. I have probably watched that movie in its entirety no less than 15 times; however, I...more
If you follow me Goodreads, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with the book club I joined last spring. I’ve disliked, vigorously, four of six books we’ve read thus far. My reading philosophy forbids wasting time on books that don’t capture me in their opening chapters, but I’ve had to bend my rules to honor book club commitments. Number Five—a memoir—fared better, but only by a thread. Number Six was my pick. I loved it. I feel sheepish because it was my selection, but after months of insufferabl...more
Genia Lukin
The force of any book of Mary Doria Russell's, in my mind, is the ability she has to look back on history, and treat the people making it with almost infinite individual compassion.

This is the sort of compassion she brings to bear while writing the story of Doc Henry John Holliday, famous Wild West gunman, dentist, and consumptive.

In one of her earlier interviews, Russell stated that she'd fallen 'in love' with Doc Holliday, and it is clear from the tone of the book that this is very much the ca...more
Summer of 1878. The much-too-famous thirty seconds of shooting at the O.K. Corral was three years in the future. Doc Holliday was in Dodge City, Kansas. It was here that he cemented his friendship with the Earp brothers---Wyatt, Morgan, and James. By this time, John Henry "Doc" Holliday was already a dentist, an accomplished pianist, and a formidable opponent at the high-stakes card games. He was also plagued by a nasty case of tuberculosis, which had driven him West for the drier air.

Doc arriv...more

I chose to read this book because I very much liked Mary Doria Russell's novel A Thread of Grace. I enjoy historical fiction, but not science fiction, the genre of several other of the author's books. True, I was not terribly interested in a cowboy story, but in a good author's hands almost any topic is interesting. So I was willing to give this a chance. I am glad I read the novel, but I do not believe it matches up with "A Thread of Grace",

This book is not primarily about the 1...more
Amy Sturgis
I received this novel as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.

Mary Doria Russell still has "it," that indefinable storyteller quality that made The Sparrow one of my favorite novels of all time.

In this work of historical fiction, Russell paints a portrait of Doc Holliday's years in Dodge City, Kansas. It's a very compelling and moving story, and in the telling the reader gets to know famous figures such as Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and not-so-famous figures from different races, nationalities,...more
"That was the fork in the road. That was when everything might have changed."

This book might be better named as Doc, the early years, because if you are expecting Doc's story to take you on to Tombstone and the infamous shootout at the OK Corral you are going to be sorely disappointed. That said, this was still an enjoyable novel and should interest those hankering for a closer look at the enigmatic John Henry "Doc" Holliday and the short time he lived in Dodge City, Kansas. Georgia born and a g...more
This was a perfect novel for me. Russell brings to life a wonderful version of Doc Holiday as a man trying his best to play the “bad hand” of slowing dying from TB and of his friend Wyatt Earp as a man with a Boy Scout core compromised by family loyalties and a temper triggered by his hatred of bullies. The first page sets the context of this tale by minimizing some stereotypes:

“At thirty, he would be famous for his part in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. A year later he w...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It's funny to read other readers' reviews of this book because almost all of them start by saying something like, "Everyone knows Doc Holliday/ Wyatt Earp/ Tombstone/ shootout at the OK Corral...."

Well, I guess I'm not everyone. I really had no knowledge of any of the characters or events that this book draws on, so while this may be seen as well-researched historical fiction, I'm forced to just enjoy it as a novel and let the quibbles over specific details be left to historians.

I would never...more
I so enjoyed this read. I love when something you thought you knew proves to be false or in the very least bordering on the far outside of truth.The portrayal of Dr Holliday by Ms Russell was just chocker blocked with vivid descriptions, emotional tugs, and downright thrilling bits about this man, one of the legends of the famous OK Corral shootout.Ms Russell presented not the myth many of us have come to know, but the true man who many including this reader never knew. Doc was a man of many fac...more
Jul 10, 2012 Katy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the Wild West
Recommended to Katy by: Vine
Book info Genre: Historical Fiction/Western Reading Level Adult

Disclosure: I received a free paperback ARC uncorrected proof from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

Book read late March to early April, 2011 and review written 4/5/2011

Synopsis: Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally wit...more
Scott Rhee
"Doc", Mary Doria Russell's more recent work of literature, is unique in that it is a biography AND a novel AND a murder mystery. It's not often one reads a book in which the author not only switches up the tone and the style but the genre, as well. What's amazing is that she does it so well and so seamlessly.

Russell de-mythologizes the historical figure of Doc Holliday, turning the well-known gunslinger icon---a figure based mostly on false Hollywood depictions---into the flesh-and-blood man t...more
I don't know where to begin with this book. Everyone knows the name Doc Holliday. All have heard of the shootout at the OK Corral where Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc squared off in Tombstone, Arizona. Heck, I've BEEN to Tombstone and taken the tour. This book tells the tale of Doc Holliday but it doesn't tell the tale of Tombstone. It wants to tell the reader the story of the man, not the legend. A legend that was created as all legends are out of part truth, part fear and part fantasy.

John H...more
"Doc" came to me via a Sci-Fi fan who had read Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow." Knowing of my pistoliferous inclinations and Western origins, he thought I'd enjoy the Tombstone "prequel"--and he was right. Russell is a one-stop literary shopping center: entertaining wordsmith, deep researcher, and strong plot organizer, all with a dose of humor.

"Doc" covers the fortunes (such as they were) of Dr. John H. Holliday, displaced southern gentleman dentist, Suh, who fetches up in Dodge City in 18an...more
Miss GP
Ms. Russell has long been a favorite author of mine (I still consider her A Thread of Grace one of the best historical fiction books I've read, and The Sparrow one of the finest sci fi novels), and so I purchased Doc last year in spite of not having a lot of interest in the American West. I was amazed at how completely involved I became in the story. It covers the lives of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Erp, Bat Masterson, etc. before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Russell created one of the most atmosph...more
I believe my first knowledge of this book came from hearing about it on an NPR show on which Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, is a co-host.
Maybe not, but I also seem to remember reading a review of it by Ron Charles that was generally positive.

Whatever the case, I was finally pushed into reading when I fished it out of a long list of books potentially in the running to be included in the upcoming 2012 "Tournament of Books." Being all nerdy about wanting to try to read as many of the 16 par...more
If you are not interested in Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and Bat Masterson, don't let that deter you from reading this book. At one level, this book is an attempt, through historical fiction (more history than fiction the author tells us), to present an honest and nuanced portrait of people who to most of us exist, if at all, only as cardboard cutout characters. On another level, the fact that most of the people in this book are real is almost irrelevant; the book would be equally powerful as a wo...more
Her first book, The Sparrow, was science fiction for people who didn't like science fiction, and it was superb. This fictionalized biography of Doc Holliday shows a great deal of research and introduced this reader to wonderful characters she knew nothing about. This is a western for people who don't like westerns, and it transported me to Dodge City for a while. I'm glad I read it.
I loved this fictionalized biography of Doc Holliday. We've all heard the stories and watched the movies about Dodge City, Tombstone, the OK Corral, the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday, and this book delivers the real story as close as possible. Some things were pure imaginings of the author, such as his childhood, but drawing from family memoirs and other documents in existence, she was able to piece the story together.

Coupled with Russell's attention to Doc's story, was her addressing the pligh...more
Kathleen Valentine
Mary Doria Russell has the uncanny ability to create characters that are so real and so human that you feel like you know them. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but the kid in me could not resist a book about childhood heroes. I never expected the total treat that this book is -- not because of the story, but because of the way these characters rise above the expectation that they will revive childhood fascination and become people the reader could know.

I am a reader who wants charact...more
Jenny Shank

Dealt a bad hand: A review of Doc
REVIEW - From the High Country News November 28, 2011 issue
By Jenny Shank

Mary Doria Russell
394 pages, hardcover: $26.
Random House, 2011.

Versatile novelist Mary Doria Rusell's captivating reimagining of the life of Doc Holliday ends before the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral, that eternal wellspring for Western novels and movies. In her new book, Doc, Russell sees Holliday as more than a gambler and gunslinger, opening t...more
Doc is somewhat deceptively presented as a mystery – the violent death of a young mixed-race boy in a stable fire in frontier Dodge City during the boom years of the long-trail cattle drives. The solution to the mystery of the murder of John Horse Sanders involves the historical characters of Doc Holliday, gunslinging dentist and gambler, and frontier marshal Wyatt Earp in their early-pre dime-novel fame days. But that is not what Doc is really about. The murder mystery is an afterthought, a min...more
Want just an overall great read?
I LOVED this book. Went into it with very little interest in Doc Holiday or Wyatt Earp. Just wanted an enjoyable read and boy, did I get it. Russell knows how to spin a great yarn and her characters nearly walk off the page. They're still with me. I wish I could have known them, had a drink with them.

Like your historical fiction to be at least somewhat accurate?
This book was scrupulously researched. This book gives a better sense of the "wild" West than any nonfic...more
A very sympathetic portrayal of John Henry Holliday according to other bios I've just read. But what a character Doc was and what a tragic life! Reading this very well written novel has altered my view on the 'wild west' which continues to this day in AZ. If the OK Corral shootout had not occurred, Doc and the Earps would not have achieved their notoriety and would have just gone down in history as characters who helped shaped Dodge City. The novel brings home the tragedy of tuberculosis in addi...more
Lori (Hellian)
I'm sorry, Mary, I have loved your other books but this one failed to engage me. It might be me, not you! Because having just finished the new Stephenson novel, I'm not sure anything could satisfy at this time. However! Some things that might have contributed:

1. I don't really like Western stories, so wasn't really interested in reading about some of the famous people, notably the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday.

2. I found the style of writing to be reporting, which would be great if I was at all...more
I read this not because of the subject, but because I want to read every book that Mary Doria Russell writes. Like all of her other books, the writing here is superb. Doc gives a good background to the legendary Doc Holliday and the Earps and Bat Masterson. Dodge City in the 1870s comes alive and you get the feeling of what it was like to be a woman in that time and place. An unnamed character in this novel is tuberculosis - what it's like to live, and to die, with this disease. A truly absorbin...more
Susan Larson
Just read anything by Mary Doria Russell. You'll be happy!

She wrote two of the best sci-fi books in the known Universe, an excellent historical novel, and now the gritty, lyrical saga Doc.

You'd think that whole Wyatt Earp-Doc Holliday-Dodge City story has been told so often that there is no more juice to be squeezed out of it. Russell says that the stories we know are lies, all lies, written for the popular press by that Varmint Bat Masterson and other Journalists of the Purple Prose! Dr. Russ...more
Award winning Mary Doria Russell demonstrates her historical fiction writing skills in "Doc" extremely well as she transports the reader to Dodge City, Kansas and the unruly "wild west" of the late 1800s. The book is very well researched and well written. I especially like the way the author would slip into the vernacular in non dialogue situations.

The main character, Doc Holliday, was born fighting to stay alive. His battle with progressive lung disease dominates this story of adapting and surv...more
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Reader's Choice B...: Doc 2 11 Jul 18, 2013 02:17PM  
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  • Deadwood
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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 Univer...more
More about Mary Doria Russell...
The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1) Children of God (The Sparrow, #2) A Thread of Grace Dreamers of the Day Epitaph

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“Every one of them has a story, and every story begins with a man who failed her. A husband who came home from the war, good for nothin' but drink. A father who didn't come home at all, or a stepfather who did. A brother who should have protected her. A beau who promised marriage and left when he got what he wanted, because he wouldn't marry a slut. If a girl like that has lost her way, it's-because some worthless no-account-sonofabitch left her in the wilderness alone!” 7 likes
“I ain't movin' to Arizona! Dammit, there is nothin' there but gravel and scorpions.” 3 likes
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