Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

by Mary Doria Russell


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Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, 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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594683261
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 226,569
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Mary Doria Russell is the author of five previous books, The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, Dreamers of the Day, and Doc, all critically acclaimed commercial successes. Dr. Russell holds a PhD in biological anthropology. She lives in Lyndhurst, Ohio.


Cleveland, Ohio

Date of Birth:

August 19, 1950

Place of Birth:

Elmhurst, Illinois


B.A., The University of Illinois; M.A., Northeastern University; Ph.D., The University of Michigan

Customer Reviews

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My wife and I have been loyal "Doria-ites" since Father Sandoz launched in space. Being hobby historians of John Henry and Wyatt, I have to believe that all of the people who lived the events would be proud of this treatment of their lives. I could see "Old Man Wyatt" telling all who questioned him, saying "read the damned book and leave me alone." Thank you Dr. Doria - Russell for your work. Know that at least 2 of your loyal fans feel that our lives are better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! Well researched and well written! Although it is a novel, it dispels a number of myths about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the events that occurred in Tombstone Arizona.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written story about what the West was truly like, not a sugar coated story. You can taste the dust, feel the heat and smell the sweat. Visit southern Arizona in the summer then turn off the A/C and you’ll understand. This is ultimately a story of the human sole and a tragic love story. Wonderful read, you won’t be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy reading about who and, what, made our country great; it took an army of people, to help achieve that goal. It is plain to see that Wyatt Earp, and his extended family, certainly had a hand, in helping achieve this goal. Was he perfect? Hardly. But, he and his family, certainly had a hand, in forging what this nation has become.For that, it is time to honor this man, and his family, for the sacrifices they incurred and made, on this country's behalf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and a great insight to what it was like during this time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
History blended with dialog and actions that may or may not have happened, when all the participants are gone and the records are contradictory. Still, I feel I understand the people and the times better than I would readingjust facts, which I have done. A good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like "Doc," this is not so much an action novel as an exploration of the characters and motives of the people caught up in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. I found it interesting to get a sense of how each character's past shaped his/her actions in the months leading up to and years after the famous gunfight.