Customer Reviews for

Doc

Average Rating 4.5
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 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.

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