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Publisher's Summary

Mary Doria Russell, the best-selling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns 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. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take the law into their own hands....

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26, when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded, and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.

Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt's real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.

©2015 Mary Doria Russell (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Hillary Huber provides a stalwart, gutsy portrayal of Kate Haroney, the brothel madam whose tempestuous relationship with Doc Holliday was scandalous even in the Wild West. Huber gleefully portrays the cunning Josephine Marcus, a scrappy former prostitute who became Earp's common-law wife. Almost half a century after the gunfight, Huber adds tenderness and a touch of frenzy as Josephine persists in her version of the epic shoot-out." ( AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Epitaph is the second captivating installment in Russell's western series

Epitaph (named both for the Arizona newspaper and the poetic relation to the content) is Mary Doria Russell's second venture into the Wild West after her spellbinding "Doc". Epitaph takes us into the world surrounding the events and characters of the historical gunfight at the O.K corral.

I've always loved books that tie character speculation based during historical events. In "doc" she gave us a new and captivating take on the south's own terminally ill gambling gunfighter Dr John Henry Holliday DDS, which carries on in Epitaph with Wyatt Earp and the Earp brothers. I can't recommend this book highly enough to fans of the historical period. Epitaph is a book worth it's weight and the audiobook is performed as well as an old time radio drama.... Can't recommend it highly enough

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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SO GOOD!

Would you listen to Epitaph again? Why?

Most definitely. I listened to "Doc" first and was worried that "Epitaph" wouldn't be as good. Boy was I wrong! I actually preferred the latter and found myself in a state of disbelief when it ended.

What other book might you compare Epitaph to and why?

Lonesome Dove Series - Larry McMurtry
The Son by Philipp Meyer

Have you listened to any of Hillary Huber’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, this was my first.

If you could rename Epitaph, what would you call it?

It wouldn't rename it. Epitaph is perfect.

Any additional comments?

You will not be disappointed!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining and (largely) Factual History

Would you consider the audio edition of Epitaph to be better than the print version?

No, I would not. Hillary Huber is a very competent narrator and does a superb job in Taylor Stevens' novels on Vanessa Munroe (all of which I have listened to and enjoyed thoroughly); however her voice simply does not work in Epitah. I realize this is a minority opinion based upon the other Audible reviews, but when she speaks as Wyatt Earp, Earp's brothers, and most of the other male characters (excluding Doc Holliday where she does an excellent job with his accent), it sounds more like adolescent youths rather than tough cowboys.

What other book might you compare Epitaph to and why?

I have not read very many historical novels of the Old West, so I struggle to come up with any kind of comparison.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

As I indicated above, in most, but not all cases, the voice simply does not match the characters she attempts to represent. On the positive side, she does exceptionally well with the female characters and with Doc Holliday. She also enunciates well and does not commit any flagrant errors in pronunciation.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

What moved me the most throughout this book was the character of Wyatt Earp and the accuracy of most of the historical narrative.

Any additional comments?

I strongly recommend that people who are interested in this book read it in print vs audio.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Russell Never Disappoints!

Epitaph was a very good story. Not as brilliantly told as was Doc (my #1 all-time favorite narrated story!!), but certainly an enjoyable journey back in time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • SydSavvy
  • PARIS, TX, United States
  • 02-29-16

A new must read Western - Russell at her best

Riveting. Especially with all the shootings and gun debates we still have, regardless of which side of the fence you sit. Not preachy - just a deeply human story. I've seen a number of movies on Tombstone, Holiday and the Earps, but none go this deep. This is probably my favorite of this author's books since her first, which is saying a great deal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truth be told.

Thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I felt as if the author went above and beyond to get the truth of what happened during Earps’s years in Tombstone, and more importantly, the years following. Told in a way that made you feel as if you were watching a film. Performed in a way that entertained in the truest sense of the word. Couldn’t stop listening.

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Novel or history ?

It starts as a novel and is slow and labored, but picks up speed in the telling. You start fact checking out curiosity and that is what makes it more interesting. Obviously the other has added what she believes they thought but it makes sense. It's a good tale, I loved the last two hours. The performance is great

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Realistic, Triumphant and Sad

This sequel to the novel Doc, adds even more heart and emotion to the real life people who have been frozen in legend. Their lives in Tombstone Arizona in the early 1880's, comes to life and you cannot help but cheer or cry for them. This book rings true and shows the impact on the lives of those who walked away from that fateful gunfight. A damn good novel.

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Wonderful

Mary Doria Russell has written a terrific novel that reminds us of a past that really isn't that far behind us. The themes of Wyatt Earp's life echo sharply in today's polarized America.

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Good Old West story

I liked the story, at times it seemed to drag though. I think the author did a great job telling the Earp's and Doc's story.