Thursday, February 27, 2014

Doc Holliday: Mythological figure of the Wild West or Genteel Man of the South?

Doc: A Novel
by Mary Doria Russell

Doc is the story of one year in the life of John Henry Holliday, aka Doc Holliday. 

Did you know Doc was from Georgia? He was also an accomplished classical pianist and treated women with the utmost respect, including the Hungarian prostitute who lived with him, Maria Katarina "Kate" Horony. Doc was a genteel Southern man, who did not practice racism in the least and was very touchy about the reputation of his beloved South. 

One turning point in the book is the murder of a half breed part Indian, part African-American boy named Johnnie Sanders. Johnnie is burned in a horse barn over "financial dealings". Most probably the money he has saved from dealing cards. 

The book doesn't mention the O.K. Corral, but Wyatt Earp and his brother do figure into the story. Doc left Atlanta at 22 years of age because of a very bad case of consumption. He was told the drier, warmer air of the West was his only hope for survival.  Doc was a dentist of some renown. It was a family occupation and people came from far and wide to Dodge City for his services. The book really reveals a side of Doc Holliday that is quite different than the usual mythologies that surround him. 

The book is built upon character development, even more than plot, and will appeal to people who don't usually read Westerns. If you enjoy the book as much as I did, there is good news! Russell is hard at work on a sequel. Let's hope her companion book is as good as her initial offering.

To request this book click on the title or cover above.

Review by Kathleen Richardson

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