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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  8,559 ratings  ·  1,744 reviews
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 with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the co ...more
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
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Mackay Don't think of this as a "western," like Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey. Think of it as a historical novel that happens to take place in the West. The…moreDon't think of this as a "western," like Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey. Think of it as a historical novel that happens to take place in the West. The heart and soul of this book should not be dismissed because Russell found compelling characters in Dodge City.(less)
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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
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
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
Mary Doria Russell’s Doc is an audaciously modest novel. Its subject, John “Doc” Holliday is a footnote to a footnote in history, a supporting character in the overblown and lethal tableau known as the “Gunfight at the OK Corral.” The Hollywood Holliday is a supporting actor, educated, literate, and lethal, a scenery-chewing contrast to the taciturn Wyatt Earp. Think Dennis Quaid in Wyatt Earp, or Val Kilmer (at his career best) in Tombstone. These portrayals are fun, but work best in small dose ...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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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

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
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
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,
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
"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
I will preface by saying: I expected this to just be a cowboy story.

I should not have. I have read The Sparrow by the same author, and found it to be a deep, touching story about faith and aliens and atrocities and recovery. But still, Doc is the story of Doc Holliday, so I simply expected a cowboy story; a rough-ridden, yee-haw, get along little dogie, bang bang, lookee here pardner cowboy story.

And what I got was a beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and deeply touching portrait of a m
Wayne Barrett
There were some good moments...a lot of historical events attached to the man that I was not aware of...and some not so good moments...too much side-tracking into the lives of secondary individuals that I could have lived without knowing.

BUT!? how can I expect to be entertained in the least bit by a story about Doc Holidays life in which the gunfight at the OK Corral gets no more than a side note mention at the end of the book???

Yes, yes, I know, and I've read the other reviews, the gunfight st
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
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
Doc by Mary Doria Russell would be a fun book even if it was an adventure as prologue to Tombstone.

Truth be said, as I read the book, the dialogue between the characters took the voice of the cast of the 1993 film, especially Doc Holliday portrayed as Val Kilmer. Russell herself said that this was not so much for the adventure of writing about famed gunslinger Holliday, or even writing a revisionist tale to be more historically accurate.

In some sense she has done both.

Russell said that she wa
Tom Mathews
Mary Doria Russell's fictional account of the life of gunfighter John Henry Doc Holliday contains more truth than any published biographies and possible even more than the actual events.
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
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
Mike (the Paladin)
This book is a fictionalized biography of Dr. John Henry Holliday, better known as Doc Holliday.

There is no actual "plot" or "storyline" per se here. The book picks up from Doc's youth and proceeds through the loss of his mother and on to the life that inspired the dentist, gambler, gunman many of us are familiar with from western fiction and folklore. As I read the book I came to suspect that the writer wrote the book not only to show more and different sides to the Doc but also to cast him in
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
i was looking forward to this book as it has good reviews. but i must say i was disappointed.

the book is historical fiction and focuses on the life of doc holliday before he became famous for his role at the shootout in tombstone, arizona.

the book focuses on holiday's life in dodge city, kansas. it is here that he crosses paths with the earp brothers and his on again/off again partner, "kate."

i think my problem with this book is that i felt like nothing really happens. we get vignettes of vario
Washington Post
Mary Doria Russell’s novel about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp is a bold act of historical reclamation that scrapes off the bull and allows those American legends to walk and love and grieve in the dynamic 19th-century world that existed before Hollywood shellacked it with cliches. If I had a six-shooter (and didn’t work in the District), I’d be firing it off in celebration of “Doc,” Mary Doria Russell’s fantastic new novel, wrote Ron Charles. The novel was rated one of Book World's 10 best books ...more
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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
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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!” 9 likes
“We are none of us born into Eden," Doc said reasonably. "world's plenty evil when we get here. Question is, what's the best way to play a bad hand?"...” 8 likes
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