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Epitaph

(Doc Holliday #2)

by
4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,695 ratings  ·  889 reviews
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, makes her Ecco debut 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
...more
Kindle Edition, 597 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Ecco
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Vicki While I think someone *COULD* read EPITAPH without first reading DOC, I think DOC provides valuable background information about the characters, their…moreWhile I think someone *COULD* read EPITAPH without first reading DOC, I think DOC provides valuable background information about the characters, their relationships, how they met, etc. that would greatly enhance the reading experience. DOC is a character-driven novel, while EPITAPH is intended to illuminate a particular historical event that, over time, has become almost mythological. For me, the character development was invaluable, but if people are most interested in learning the de-mythologized story of the gunfight at the OK Corral, I think they'd be fine just reading EPITAPH.(less)

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Michael
My best read of the year, and one I can recommend to all. What, you don’t think a “Western” would appeal to you? Or you think you saw a movie about a shootout in Tombstone that conveys to you everything you didn’t really need to know? And are you about to tell me that any thrill from brave action and dastardly villainy is gone, and any joy of wisdom about courage and justice is as dead as old reruns of “Gunsmoke”?

Well, never fear, just forget all that. Think character development sublime, prose
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Jaline
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Note: This is the second of a two-part 'series' that began with Doc

As it says in this book, “Every Tombstone needs an Epitaph”. This is said about the newspaper John Clum decided to establish in Tombstone, Arizona. The year was 1880 and the Earp brothers were already getting themselves set up in the town with their wives.

We learn more about the wives of the Earps (most of them through common law) and what their experiences were during this time of boom and bust that the American frontier was exp
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Brina
Howdy, Goodreads friends. The year 2018 has been a year with reading at a premium for me. I have cut down on reading and unfortunately on reviewing as well, even for books that I enjoyed. What I have done, is enjoyed time with my family, been busy with both family life and work, and preparing for a bar mitzvah later this year. So while I would love to express my views in a five paragraph writeup for every book that I have read this year, it just is not happening; however, I owed it to Mary Doria ...more
Kemper
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
”To understand the gunfight in Tombstone, stop — now — and watch a clock for thirty seconds. Listen to it tick while you try to imagine one half of a single minute so terrible it will pursue you all your life and far beyond the grave."

One of the things I find fascinating about the ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral'* is how the same set of facts can be presented to show one side or the other as the ‘good guys’ or the ‘bad guys’. Were the Earps and Doc Holliday heroes who fearlessly faced down some das
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Diane S ☔
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know those silly questionnaires that ask, if you could meet anyone alive or dead who would you choose? I think I would choose Doc Holiday, he was such a complicated person, the many different sides to his personality, his diverse talents. I find him fascinating and loved Russell's novel, Doc. This book was much more extensive, and Doc only plays a small part, yet the parts that contained him and Josie, who would eventually become Wyatt Earps wife were among my favorites.

The atmosphere in thi
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Julie Christine
Beneath history, memory and forgetting.
Beneath memory and forgetting, life.
Paul Ricoeur

Mary Doria Russell could not have selected a finer epigraph to preface her retelling of those thirty seconds on that Tombstone October afternoon in 1881.

The final sixty pages of Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral are a cautionary tale of what lies beneath history: legends spun from nostalgia. Perhaps it seems odd that I would begin by telling you of the end, but this novel is funny like that. We already kno
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The Shayne-Train
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I will preface this review by saying that I've been a bit obsessed, of late, with the life of John Henry "Doc" Holliday. I've read numerous books about him or involving him over the last two years or so: some of them historical novels, and some of them pure fantasy with Doc as a character in them. All of them please me, as they all portray him as a witty, grumpy, slowly-dying Southern gentleman of honor. But none of them, not a single one of them, has pleased me as much as this wonderfully-writt ...more
Tom Mathews
The number one criticism one hears against history books is that they aren’t timely; that they don’t relate to events that are happening today. When it comes to Mary Doria Russell's latest book, Epitaph, though, nothing could be farther from the truth. Granted, a book about a shootout that happened in a vacant lot in Arizona over 130 years ago hardly seems relevant but when you boil it down to its essentials, a closely-knit biased clan of law enforcement officials gun down innocent members of an ...more
Doug Bradshaw
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved this book and I admire the author and her meticulous work and brilliant imagination. We've all watched movies, TV series and perhaps read other books about Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. But to read this book along with "Doc" is an incredibly interesting and powerful experience. Some of the themes well covered:
The life and times of prostitutes in the old west, the reality of cowboys and gunfights, political and police corruption, fire destroying a city, living in extreme heat, extreme
...more
Steve
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 hol
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I've been lusting after this book and right now it's 99 cents on Amazon.
Sooooo

postimage
Patricia
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Don't start this book until you have time - you won't want to put it down. Mary Doria Russell has a gift for putting you squarely in the time and environment she chooses - in this case, Tombstone, AZ and all the events surrounding the shootout at the OK Corral. While the main character is Wyatt Earp, you get strong insights into the Earp family, Doc Holliday is back, along with Kate Haroney, and a large cast of real characters.

I particularly love these books because they are not romantic. These
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Debbie Zapata
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019sundaze
After reading Doc by this author, of course I jumped right into Epitaph. Although Doc Holliday was a part of this story as well, the main character here was Wyatt Earp. And the town of Tombstone, of course. And politics, greed, and fear. There was a lot going on here!

Tombstone was one of the roughest mining boom towns in the Arizona Territory. Wyatt and his brothers went with the intention of getting rich, but all they got was either wounded, dead, or forever infamous.

Politics, greed, fear, and
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Laura
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My first read by this author and just wow! Amazing that it takes no time to get into this lengthy novel and it holds your attention the entire time. No lags! Highly recommend if you like historical fiction.
Linda Robinson
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 is stunning prose. Near the bottom "Whatever your name, it will be blackened." Turn the page and begin the story with Josie Marcus stumbling through a piece on the piano, and the man she has not yet met we know is Doc Holliday coaching her. We recogniz ...more
Regina Lindsey
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 one that “lived ugly but read romantic,” fits my view perfectly. However, I finally gave in, begrudgingly, and read Doc. One, I was mesmerized by Russell’s writing and have gone on to read everything she’s written except Children of God. I have absolut
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Stacey
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you think you know everything about the "Gunfight at the OK Corral," you might be tempted to take a pass on reading this book. Don't! This is the wild, wild West at its very worst - and frequently at its very best. Russell manages to take a myth-filled story and do two amazng thing with it. First, she sets it up in the context of national politics (always a nasty proposition). Personal, political ambition coupled with corporate profit (sound familiar?) tangle with individuals, personal rights ...more
William
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
one of the greatest books in years and the best Western since LONESOME DOVE. You owe it to yourself to read this amazing novel in which history comes blazingly alivd.
Joyce
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ has taken on a life of its own. Nobody knows for sure just exactly what transpired in those 30 seconds. Eye witness accounts vary. Many books, tv shows and movies have resulted, not to mention that Tombstone itself is a tourist attraction where the gunfight is reenacted daily. The story lives on.

This book exceeded my expectations in many ways. It not only told about the events leading up to the gun fight, but it also really did a fine job going into
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Heather
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 difficult decisions. The book is well-researched and well-rooted in its historical time & place, but - in terms of themes - timeless and universal. Although Epitaph can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading Doc first, then Epitaph in quic ...more
Nicole R
Forget the Avengers, if justice needs to be meted out, Wyatt Earp is the man for the job.

I am a reluctant fan of Westerns. I don't know why it has taken me so long to admit this. I remember watching John Wayne movies with my grandpa from a young age (McClintock, anyone?) but it took two engagingly written and thoroughly researched books on two infamous characters in American history to have me embracing my love of stagecoaches, saloons, and vigilante justice in the wild west.

Epitaph's subtitle t
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Ctgt
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
So I'm two for two with Russell. I was pleasantly surprised when I read and enjoyed The Sparrow, I'm not usually a fan of first contact books. When I looked at her list of books I was immediately drawn to this title. When I was a kid, I worked at a local farmer's market and distinctly remember visiting the used book stall only to come home with an armload of westerns, Louis L'Amour, Max Brand, Zane Grey, among others. (This should have been an early indicator that I had a reading problem).

Anyway
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Margo
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A unique, endearing, somewhat gritty, romantic novel based on superb research of a real event. The novel starts and ends with Sadie,Wyatt Earp's wife, but mostly centers on the events that lead up to the shoot-out and then describes what happened to the men, their relatives and friends on both sides. The focus is the Claptons, the Earps and Doc Holliday. There are marvelous, though sometimes painful descriptions of Holliday's TB, the town, law enforcement, politics and rise and fall of silver mi ...more
Mark
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Every Tombstone Needs an Epitaph”

“Hell is empty. All the devils are here.”

-Doc Holliday

October 26th, 1881. Tombstone, Arizona. The O.K. Corral. Thirty seconds. Thirty bullets. A mythological moment was born.
Everyone knows the story, of the three Earp brothers, teamed up with Doc Holliday, facing down the Clantons and the McLaurys. A bloody opera. An immortal dance.
This is a novel, but what Mary Doria Russell has done, is brought this mythical “Old West” episode, back down to earth and has fles
...more
Taryn Pierson
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I bought an ebook version of Epitaph on sale literal YEARS ago and finally decided it was time to read it recently when I was in the mood for a Western. To get the full experience, I even reread Doc, the companion novel that covers the lives of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the years before the shootout at the O.K. Corral. And I had such a great time! Doc Holliday was a fascinating person, and Russell goes beyond the myth to portray the real, complicated man. And if you’ve ever wanted to know w ...more
Elizabeth A
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
My thoughts about a quarter way through: I suddenly feel underdressed without a couple of guns slung on my hips.

My Dad is a huge fan of Westerns, so as kids we watched every one at least a handful of times. I grew up knowing all about the gunfight at the O.K. Corral - though I could not have found Arizona on a map, and had to look up the word corral.

It is often said that history is the tale told by the victors; well, sometimes it can be the tale told due to a very persistent wife. This historic
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Irene
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another excellent historical novel by Russell. Following after her novel “Doc”, this continues the story of Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers to Tombstone, AZ. This book has all that I appreciate about Russell’s writing: great character development, well-written prose, solid historical research.
Shawn
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I read the prequel to this novel "Doc" and enjoyed it. Mary Doria Russell is an excellent novelist and her books are always well-researched. The book is a very easy one to read.

I almost gave this book four stars but a couple of things bothered me. First, it seemed right of the bat the author was making John Henry Holiday more modern than he may have been. I noticed it when the gunman began to advise Josie on the pitfalls of domestic violence. Um... ok. Not sure if Doc Holiday was the paragon of
...more
Amy Sturgis
This novel is a deeply researched and deeply felt depiction of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, Doc Holliday, and the women who were their partners in Tombstone, Arizona, before, during, and after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As always, Mary Doria Russell gazes unflinchingly at her subject, posing big questions and demanding thorough answers. Russell paints a compelling portrait of men and women who were, on the one hand, the fallible products of nature and nurture and a specific political and cult ...more
Natalie
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Linda and her positive review which prompted me to read this excellent book.

This novel is a testament to what a talented, dedicated, experienced writer can bring to a topic a reader might expect to feel worn or condensed or rehashed . None of that here !

Instead what happens here is a real treasure for the reader - years of research, multiple perspectives, difficult terrain, conflicting historical and dramatic accounts all coalesced into a page turner.

If all
...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
...more

Other books in the series

Doc Holliday (2 books)
  • Doc
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“Ringo's chuckle got tangled up with a cough. He tossed back a shot, cleared his throat, and said, "Politics, from the Latin. Poly, meaning 'many.' Ticks meaning 'bloodsucking little bastards.” 11 likes
“IF YOU WANT A STORYBOOK ENDING, stop—now—and remember them in that tender moment. Be content to know that they embarked on a series of adventures throughout the West and that they stayed together through thick and thin for forty-five years.

But know this as well: If their story ended here, no one would remember them at all.

Where a tale begins and where it ends matters. Who tells the story, and why . . . That makes all the difference.”
4 likes
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