Doc: A Novel



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 couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins-- before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology--when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.

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411 pages

Average rating: 7.6




Community Reviews

Oct 09, 2023
10/10 stars
What a fantastic book! Mary Doria Russell is my favorite author--and she did not disappoint me in this book. I don't usually read westerns, but this book gripped my attention and kept me turning the pages. This story of "Doc" John Holliday is not at all what I expected. This book covers only the period of time when Holliday lived in Dodge City. In this book, Holliday was a kind-hearted, generous Southern gentleman, with an amazingly liberal attitude toward life. Even though the book contains an afterword that tries to elucidate which parts of the story are true, it is difficult to tell the difference between the myth and the true man.
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Aug 01, 2023
10/10 stars
I don't think I've ever actually read a Western, so I can't say for sure if this book qualifies as belonging to that genre, or if it's just plain old historical fiction. Whatever it is, it's another example of Mary Doria Russell's mastery of her craft. We already know that Russell writes great historical fiction and science fiction, but here she has chosen yet another period and setting vastly different from what she's given her readers before, and again with the meticulous research that her fans will by now take for granted.

If this book has a flaw, it's that it can be a little jumpy. We are occasionally yanked back in time for some backstory, which always helps flesh out a character or plot point, but some way of distinguishing these short flashbacks from the rest of the narrative would have made the transition less jarring. This small flaw is easily overlooked, though, as it doesn't take more than a sentence or two to adjust to the new setting.

And it's well worth overlooking. Historical figures that many of us have heard of but probably don't know much about beyond the legend will come to life through Russell's writing. Those who are more familiar with these figures will appreciate the research that Russell has done to go beyond that legend. Everyone will enjoy a good story well told.
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