Customer Reviews for

Doc

Average Rating 4.5
( 102 )
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5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(25)

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(7)

2 Star

(3)

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(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

A Western Gunslinger Redefined

The title of Mary Doria Russell's new book may be Doc, but the novel sheds light on the many earthy people intertwined in the life of Dr. John Henry Holliday. These characters will captivate you with Old West jargon and courage as they live in a world of gambling, alcoh...
The title of Mary Doria Russell's new book may be Doc, but the novel sheds light on the many earthy people intertwined in the life of Dr. John Henry Holliday. These characters will captivate you with Old West jargon and courage as they live in a world of gambling, alcohol, prostitution and horses. The author's background in anthropology illuminates her carousing, caring, and courageous tamers of the Early West. Doc Holliday was born with a cleft palate. Corrective surgery while a child left no tell-tale signs except a charming crooked grin. This auspicious new lease on life seems a reverse metaphor for how the brightness of his life dwindled into an extended death from tuberculosis. Russell shows us the real man, not just the Doc Holliday from the OK Corral. He was educated, thoughtful, cultivated, and a competent dentist who cared about his patients. We discover the man we knew as a gunslinger understood Latin and French, adored Beethoven, played piano and read The Aeneid. His wheezy laugh, wracking cough, fluid-filled lungs, ulcerated throat and chest pain run like threads through the book. Even after taking to the dry frontier to improve his health, Doc seems always a breath away from death. The author masterfully delineates the truth about Doc Holliday from the myth. He is fascinating. Kate, his high-strung, often-inebriated fight-picking companion, genuinely loves Doc. It is refreshing to see a different side of Wyatt Earp, normally portrayed as a tough skinned lawman. He loves his disreputable, naughty horse and cherishes the woman in his life. He and Doc are brought together by a strong moral code over the death of an innocent boy of color. Bat Masterson and a Jesuit priest round out the main characters. Applaud this female writer for aptly capturing the world of men in Doc. Straightforward and punchy, much like the wild frontier, the writing is clear, crisp and replete with historical detail. You'll sit in saloons with these people, smell cigar smoke and wonder what's really in their poker hand. Chapter headings not only capture the spirit of the times, but give us hints into the plot movement: . Stacking the Deck . The Ante . Wild Card . Under the Table . Playing for Keeps A bit overpopulated and sometimes windy, Doc is a witty and enjoyable read, especially for fans of the raw American West. Mary Doria Russell hits the nail on the head again. If moved by John Henry Holliday's story, the author requests readers make donations to organizations such as the Smile Train, for surgical correction of cleft palates. Random House provided the advance release copy. The opinions expressed are unbiased and wholly that of the reviewer. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

posted by nyauthoress on May 3, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Could not read this book

I have only stopped reading a book twice in my life. This book was one of the two. I tried and tried to get into it but after 200 pages I simply decided not to torture myself any longer. Characters were shallow and flat; story was all over the place. I do not recomm...
I have only stopped reading a book twice in my life. This book was one of the two. I tried and tried to get into it but after 200 pages I simply decided not to torture myself any longer. Characters were shallow and flat; story was all over the place. I do not recommend this book.

posted by 1454107 on April 13, 2012

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 102 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Western Gunslinger Redefined

    The title of Mary Doria Russell's new book may be Doc, but the novel sheds light on the many earthy people intertwined in the life of Dr. John Henry Holliday. These characters will captivate you with Old West jargon and courage as they live in a world of gambling, alcohol, prostitution and horses. The author's background in anthropology illuminates her carousing, caring, and courageous tamers of the Early West. Doc Holliday was born with a cleft palate. Corrective surgery while a child left no tell-tale signs except a charming crooked grin. This auspicious new lease on life seems a reverse metaphor for how the brightness of his life dwindled into an extended death from tuberculosis. Russell shows us the real man, not just the Doc Holliday from the OK Corral. He was educated, thoughtful, cultivated, and a competent dentist who cared about his patients. We discover the man we knew as a gunslinger understood Latin and French, adored Beethoven, played piano and read The Aeneid. His wheezy laugh, wracking cough, fluid-filled lungs, ulcerated throat and chest pain run like threads through the book. Even after taking to the dry frontier to improve his health, Doc seems always a breath away from death. The author masterfully delineates the truth about Doc Holliday from the myth. He is fascinating. Kate, his high-strung, often-inebriated fight-picking companion, genuinely loves Doc. It is refreshing to see a different side of Wyatt Earp, normally portrayed as a tough skinned lawman. He loves his disreputable, naughty horse and cherishes the woman in his life. He and Doc are brought together by a strong moral code over the death of an innocent boy of color. Bat Masterson and a Jesuit priest round out the main characters. Applaud this female writer for aptly capturing the world of men in Doc. Straightforward and punchy, much like the wild frontier, the writing is clear, crisp and replete with historical detail. You'll sit in saloons with these people, smell cigar smoke and wonder what's really in their poker hand. Chapter headings not only capture the spirit of the times, but give us hints into the plot movement: . Stacking the Deck . The Ante . Wild Card . Under the Table . Playing for Keeps A bit overpopulated and sometimes windy, Doc is a witty and enjoyable read, especially for fans of the raw American West. Mary Doria Russell hits the nail on the head again. If moved by John Henry Holliday's story, the author requests readers make donations to organizations such as the Smile Train, for surgical correction of cleft palates. Random House provided the advance release copy. The opinions expressed are unbiased and wholly that of the reviewer. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2011

    Please read this; don't think of it as a "cowboy book".

    Mary Doria Russell is one of my favorite writers; to say that she is brilliant is an understatement. Each of her books covers a different topic; her research is thorough and her writing is magical without being "chick" lit. She paints a picture with her words. I learned so much about Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers and everything I previously thought about them went right out the window. This book not only tells us about the lives of the aforementioned, but it also tells us a lot about what was happening out west after the Civil War. Just fascinating.
    Just an aside: Ms. Russell's book "A Thread of Grace" is one of my top two favorite books (the other being "The Gargoyle" by A. Davidson) and is absolutely astonishing. Everyone I recommend this book to is as impressed as I am. Please do yourself a hug favor and read "A Thread of Grace" as well as "Doc."

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

    Very good.

    This is realistic story telling. Especially liked the list up front of who was real, who fictional (although it wasn't hard to guess by the end). Only 6 speed bumps of factual errors, one of which was astounding given how many people previewed the book for errors. The character of Doc is so complete and absorbing that his "thoughts" in a dramatic scene near the end struck me as being totally out of his character (but women readers liked it). Highly recommended for book club discussion.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Could not read this book

    I have only stopped reading a book twice in my life. This book was one of the two. I tried and tried to get into it but after 200 pages I simply decided not to torture myself any longer. Characters were shallow and flat; story was all over the place. I do not recommend this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    When the dust settles- great read!

    I have to be honest here and say this is my first Western novel so I had no idea what I was getting myself into and my first thought was if it got too much "shootem-up", I was closing the book and moving on. I finished the book and I was completely in awe of what I have been missing in this genre. Ruseell wrote with such compassion and forethought that I felt like I was getting a behind the scene look at American Westerns that I used to watch with my father and hear about from the neighbor boys. Growing up, you heard or watched on telly all about Westerns and you seen the fights, the robberies, the cowboys parading their fine horses through the towns, the shoot-outs and scuffles in the saloons but Russell's book takes a more quieter approach. She shows us what it really must have been like when all that hype settled down - when the camera stopped rolling. Those cowboys were a tough bunch but they were a close-knit community: watching each other backs and depending on each other.

    "Talk to me awhile," he said. "Tell me about....tell me about a day when you where happy." (Doc Holliday)

    I am going to use this quote - I think it might make people stop and think about what they have to be happy about and perhaps add some happiness back into their lives.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Superb. Funny, wistful, sad, elegant.

    If you're looking for a story about the ruthless killer, Doc Holliday, and the Gunfight at the OK Corrall, this is not your book. This novel about Doc Holliday's early life and his stay in Dodge City revolves around his friendships with the Earps and Kate Harony, a murder mystery, politics of the frontier, the practice of nineteenth-century medicine, and the despair of a man of culture forced to live among barbarians. Ms. Russell's prose is as elegant as Doc's silk shirts, but can become as melancholy as a weeping drunk. There's one scene near the end, involving Doc playing the piano, which brought me to tears. Some of the scenes between Wyatt and Doc had me laughing out loud. While some of Ms. Russell's characterization and events might be questioned by historians (and this is a very contentious field of American history), her delineation of these characters is as bold and daring as the men and women of the post-Civil War era itself. This is an instant classic.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    I highly recommend it!

    Wonderful and interesting book. Gives the reader a lot of insight into Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and their friends and acquaintances in Dodge City. It was very enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

    Had me from the first page.  Absolutely fascinating and believab

    Had me from the first page.  Absolutely fascinating and believable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Loved loved loved this story

    Found out things didn't know about the old west and poor Doc, all of the characters were so well described and Bat Masterson from TV was not the same as the real one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2012

    Great book , and I usually would not pick a western . I admit be

    Great book , and I usually would not pick a western . I admit being biased when it comes to books by Mary Doria Russel, as I have read and enjoyed all the books she has written. I like historical fiction, if it is well researched and the story is interesting as Doc is. The story takes place primarily in Dodge City Kansas after the civil war, but also describes Docs childhood out East. Doc Holliday, lived,in the time of tough sheriffs, prostitution , gambling as an occupation., along side of other historic and legendary men such as the Eurp brothers and Bat Masterson . There is not a usual subject or time period for MDR to write about and she pulls the Western off handily.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    Recommended

    If you liked (and who didn't?) Val Kilmers' Doc Holliday in the movie "Tombstone" you can 'hear' him again in this very enjoyable novel.
    A peach of a treat!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Loved loved this book.

    Loved loved this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2012

    A different view of Doc

    Couldn't put the book down. The characters come to life in a way we never knew they lived. Doc Holiday lived on the edge! Nothing to dislike about this book and everything to enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    recommend

    Excellent read. Characters are very well developed and you really get to know a lot about the times. Was facinated with the practice of dentistry by Doc.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    Very enjoyable book with an interesting subject.

    I found Doc well written and full of colorful details. I learned a lot about the live if Doc Holliday and the Earps. Only complaint is it could have been longer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2012

    Perfect

    I read this book while traveling through Arizona. Having knowledge of the characters in the novel helps to appreciate the language, personality and interpretation of the times. I highly recommend this delightful and well written book. I will definetely read more by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    good story

    it is a very compelling book and I kept thinking about it even when I wasn't actively reading it. I expected something a little different than just a glimpse in the life of a famous historical figure, but that is all it is. It seems to be a well researched and very believable piece of historical fiction. I could almost feel the oppression of the searing heat of the prairie and smell the cattle and dust in the small town of Dodge City.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Best western story!

    Educational & dramatic with a tragic love story thrown in. Doc was an intelligent, caring dentist besot with TB. He moves to Kansas from Georgia for some relief. He sets up a dental practice while Kate whores in Dodge city. He is an accomplished gambler and piano player. He drinks alcohol to quell his cough and chest pain. The Earp.brothers become his second family in the west while he yearns for the South. The author researched for this time period extensevily and made an intriguing story!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2011

    Wonderfully written, moving historical fiction

    This is one of Russell's best -- and that's high praise indeed!

    Doc follows Doc Holliday's early years in the West, about which I'd known little. The portraits of Doc, his on-and-off girlfriend Kate, and the Earps are fascinating and empathetic. The book is beautifully written. Russell has a rare gift for dialogue and for making her characters lovable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Vivid portrayal of the Old West

    I enjoyed this story of a Doc Holliday who was not like the movie version. If you like stories about legendary characters and the wild west, this story fits that description. Also, the background setting and secondary characters are detailed and keep the pages turning. There were plenty of people to dislike and some mysteries to clear up, too. This would be a very interesting book for a book club to read and discuss. Everyday life in the West doesn't play in this novel as it did in Gunsmoke and the differences would make lively discussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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