Review: Mary Doria Russell’s ‘Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral’

March 27, 2015 12:14 PM

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Review: Mary Doria Russell’s ‘Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral’

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has been dramatized in numerous books, on stage, on screen, and in one particularly far-fetched episode of Star Trek. In Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell revisits the iconic shootout, delving into its dramatic back story and aftermath. With vast amounts of research and a poetic prose line, she puts the hard kernel of the gunfight’s violence at the center of a setting as wide and complicated as the young United States itself.

It’s a remarkable accomplishment, especially given that the battle, which erupted just up the street from the O.K. Corral, in the Arizona territory town of Tombstone on Oct. 26, 1881, lasted a mere 30 seconds. The result of a longstanding feud between a group of five “Cow Boys” (Ike and Billy Clanto...

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