Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

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9780062198778: Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

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.

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From the Back Cover:

A richly detailed novel of the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the making of the mythology that surrounds it to this day

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president scorned 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 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. But thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt. Wyatt Earp was 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.

Mary Doria Russell has unearthed the Homeric tragedy buried beneath 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, Epitaph gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds. And at its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for almost half a century and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph she believed her husband deserved.

“In depth, scope and nuance, Mary Doria Russell’s Epitaph is the best novel yet on the near-mythical events of the Wild West’s most famous silver boomtown.” —Dallas Morning News

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.

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