Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell


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. CorralA deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smu...

Details Epitaph

Release DateMar 3rd, 2015
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Westerns

Reviews Epitaph

  • 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, jus...
  • Marita
    4.5 starsIt all started with a bad tooth. And a piano... There was Doc Holliday, one-time dentist now turned professional gambler, living comfortably in Tucson, Arizona when he got the call. Friend Wyatt Earp in Tombstone had a severe toothache, and would the Doc come to Tombstone? By the way, there was also an excellent piano at the local hotel. Doc might say no to the tooth, but the piano? - not on your life. He was determined to play a good pi...
  • Jaline
    Note: This is the second of a two-part 'series' that began with DocAs 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 ti...
  • Kemper
    ”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 th...
  • 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 ...
  • Diane S ☔
    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 ...
  • 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, ...
  • The Shayne-Train
    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...
  • 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...
  • Doug Bradshaw
    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 ...
  • Steve
    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 stree...
  • Patricia
    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 lov...
  • Laura
    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
    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...
  • Regina Lindsey
    Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell5 Stars and a heartLet 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 eve...
  • Stacey
    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 f...
  • William
    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
    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 f...
  • Heather
    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 rec...
  • 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 vigil...
  • Ctgt
    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 ea...
  • Margo
    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 en...
  • Mark
    “Every Tombstone Needs an Epitaph”“Hell is empty. All the devils are here.”-Doc HollidayOctober 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 myt...
  • Taryn Pierson
    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, co...
  • Elizabeth A
    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...
  • Shawn
    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....
  • 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 na...
  • 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 ...
  • Caryl
    I've never had any interest in the O.K. Corral story, but I truly enjoyed this book. Mary Doria Russell is the perfect person to fill me in on what the big deal was/still is. I could picture all of the characters, their motivations, their challenges, their place & time. Reading this book while visiting Tucson and Tombstone was an extra-special experience. Looking out at the desert landscape enhanced my understanding of the story, but wasn't neces...