Customer Reviews for

Doc

Average Rating 4.5
( 98 )
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5 Star

(59)

4 Star

(24)

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(7)

2 Star

(2)

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(6)

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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

2 out of 2 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2011

    Thoroughly enjoyed!

    Tremendously interesting...about 60% actual history. Meanders from Georgia, Texas, Kansas, New York and more in the mid-to-late 1800's.
    Skillfully intertwines the stories of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and others with whom we're familiar from movies, television and books. Puts to rest many legends; tells it as it actually was. Is not a "shoot-em-up" cowboy novel, but a thoughtful, insightful, intelligent account of interesting people and events in U.S. history. Loved every page and highly recommend to readers of all persuasions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Splendid book

    I can't remember when I've been so taken by a book and its characters. As a disclaimer, I am predisposed to anything Western, but I was not prepared for the emotion and power of "Doc". We all have heard and read about the O.K. Corral, but readers hoping for some insights into that extraordinarily brief shootout will be disappointed. This is the story of Doc himself and Tombstone, Arizona is a footnote in this tale. Ms. Russell is a very fine writer (I've read several other books of hers) and she seems to be improving with every book. This has the grit of "Deadwood" without the deliberate coarseness (and I do understand the rationale) for those who are devotees of that TV series, the ability to tell a tragic story without any saccharine and the skill to explain complex personalities effortlessly. I was all over the map while reading this, from howling with laughter to pondering social issues of the day to shedding very real tears of sympathy, particularly during the final chapters, and I cannot recommend this book more strongly. If there were six stars to rate this book, I'd be giving this book six.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    Fine author at pealk skills

    Terrific read even if u don't read westerns.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2011

    Reading this book was time well spent

    What a beautifully written book!! I truly could not put it down and this is not the type of book I normally read. Read this book! You will learn so much!! Mary Doria Russell's description of the music Doc played brought me to tears. Looking forward to reading the rest of her books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended

    A look at the "real" man behind the legend. Probably a lot closer to the truth than what we see in the movies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    Another excellent story from Mary Doria Russell

    This novel is a rather different look at the life of John Henry "Doc" Holliday, famous (or infamous) friend and ally of the famous (or infamous) Earp brothers. The shootout at the OK Corral is epilogue, not centerpiece. After telling the tale of Holliday's upbringing in Georgia and his education as a dentist on the recommendation of his doctor uncle, who felt that medicine was becoming the realm of quackery while dentistry was becoming ever more scientific, the book focuses on what is presented as his one happy summer as an adult: the summer he met the Earp brothers in Dodge City, Kansas.

    The new-minted dentist John Henry Holliday begins a promising young practice in Atlanta, but before too long comes to the painful realization that he's suffering from the same consumption (tuberculosis) that killed his mother. His uncle, Doctor Holliday, recommends that he move to the hot, dry southwest, and helps him locate a practice to join in Texas. All is well for a few, brief months--and then the Panic of 1873 happens. The dental practice can barely support its owner, and Holliday is out of a job. He gradually starts to support himself by gambling, and after a few years of sinking deeper and deeper into this life, he meets Kate Haroney, a smart, educated, former minor aristocrat who lost her entire family and position and is now supporting herself as a whore.

    This is a partnership that will last, off and on, for the next decade, and it's also what brings Doc Holliday to Dodge City, where he meets the Earp brothers. And this is the meat of the story that Russell is telling, the story of the summer when Doc thought consumption might be loosening its grip on him, starts up a dental practice again, and forges a friendship with the Earp brothers, especially Morgan and Wyatt. It's the summer when Morgan and Wyatt get a painful education in politics, and the summer that another figure who will someday be famous, Bat Masterson, is also in Dodge and starting to fabricate the stories that will be the cornerstone of his fame. Russell gets us convincingly inside these heads, especially Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and builds a compelling account of how and why they made the choices that led them to that fateful thirty seconds in the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. We also see the beginning of Bat Masterson's myth-making about them, especially Doc Holliday, and the great distance between reality and myth in the story of Holliday's career as gambler and gunslinger.

    One of the most touching strands in this story is Holliday's commitment to the positive good that professional dentistry can make in people's lives, freeing them from pain, even while it's clear to him that he'll never support himself with dentistry. In fact, it's his gambling that enables him to support his dentistry. Another, almost equally touching thread is Wyatt's rehabilitation of the horse Dick Naylor.

    While there are gunfights and brawls in Doc, this is not a story of western gunslinging derring-do. This is a thoughtful and compelling look at some major icons of the American west, before they were famous and when they never expected that a gunfight would become the central event of their lives.

    Highly recommended.

    I received a free galley of this book for review from the publisher.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Western Genre At It's Best!

    I love westerns! Mary Doria Russell's Doc is the western genre at it's best! She paints a vivid picture of John Henry Holliday, his childhood, family, friends, women and his horrific illness. Even if you don't think you would like a "cowboy" story, you will love this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Loved it

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Readers will relish Doc as he and the Earp brothers become friends while seeking frontier justice for a half-breed

    In 1878 Dodge City, Kansas is a cow town where alcohol and hookers leave the young rustlers broke. Twenty something John Henry Holliday arrives from Atlanta to open up a dental practice. A Southern gentleman, he moved based on medical advice that a dry climate may abate somewhat the debilitating deadly impact of tuberculosis. Doc as he becomes known finds dental work not much of an income maker, but he proves talented at gambling. His live-in relationship with his intellectual equal Kate Harony is passionate as each loves music and the classics, but the hot-tempered Hungarian's attempts to tame the Georgian has them brawling as much as loving.

    When someone burns to death a mixed breed lad Johnny Sanders, lawmen Wyatt and Morgan Earp are outraged with the immoral murder. They vow to find the perpetrator and bring frontier justice to the culprit. Shockingly Doc feels morally obligated to assist the Earp brothers.

    A few years before the famous gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone made them the models for future western frontier heroic stereotypes; Mary Doria Russell paints a vivid picture of the beginning of the friendship between Morgan the lawman and Doc the gambler. The characters make the historical biography story line fun to read as myth and fact blend into a deep portrait; though in many ways the key cast supersedes the murder plot. Readers will relish Doc as he and the Earp brothers become friends while seeking frontier justice for a half-breed.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    Son

    I FOUNS IT!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Heather

    Hey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    H

    H

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Anderson

    You can you r hethy enough

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Kaitlynn

    "I wanna go home" *she mumbled*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Alex

    Drives them home

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    C Im very cold Im very cold

    Kddfjdkdnes nbpx

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Ill get him

    Viv to a

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Alex

    Thx.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    disappointing

    I consider myself an avid reader, 2-3 books per week. While I usually rely on recommendations from friends and Barnes and Noble reviews, it must be reported that this book was a laborious read. It's not my custom to quit reading a book before the last page but I was tempted to do so many times. Made it to the end and learned a bit about Doc Holliday and life in the midwest; however, the book did not captivate me. I'll donate my copy to the local library with the hope that someone will enjoy this obviously well-researched historical account.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Good book.

    Hard to put down!

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