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The squabbles in these pages were for potatoes both big and small-the divine right of kings, say, or the Hatfield theft of a McCoy hog-yet they had staying power because they were balanced fights: The contestants fought at the same weight. Otherwise, the fighting would have been over before the first bell and if there is one thing that links these feuds together it is longevity. The author knows how to write a lively narrative, swiftly paced but always clearly directed. Everywhere there are consequences to pay, both for the victor and the vanquished: Moldy old Queen Elizabeth doesn't stand a chance against Mary, Queen of Scots, on the popularity front (but that didn't keep the redhead's melon attached to her neck). Aaron Burr's good aim killed more than Alexander Hamilton-it assassinated his own public reputation, as well. Equally malignant was the battle between the Hatfields and the McCoys, which all started with a pig and ended generations later in the Supreme Court. There are the creepy turf wars of Patton and Montgomery that may have directly led to the death of thousands of troops, the ugly little tiff between LBJ and RFK that sent both down in flames, and Hoover's grotesqueries in his struggle to subdue Martin Luther King Jr. The match between Stalin and Trotsky best sums up the ruinous and tawdry nature of these affairs-the real prize sought by such elephantine egos (i.e. power beyond the scope of all adversaries) was simply too big to be wielded with decency, much less greatness.
Everyone loves a good fight, especially on the world stage, and Evans calls these contests with skill and flair.
In the tradition of its successful forebears, Hal Hellman's Great Feuds in Science (Forecasts, Feb. 26) and Great Feuds in Medicine, this new collection showcases 10 feuds between some of the world's most enigmatic personalities, with an emphasis on the global issues often at stake and how, for better or worse, the feuds changed history. Evans (Casebook of Forensic Detection) captures all the dram and controversy in these streamlined accounts brimming with invigorated, well-paced prose. History and human nature collide as revenge is taken to the extreme between strangers and within families. Amundsen and Scott race to the South Pole. Patton and Montgomery, "two armor-plated egos," battle the Germans while vying with each other for the title of supreme Allied general in WWII. The Hatfields and the McCoys, the modern-day synonyms for feuding parties, meet in a succession of bloody showdowns, while Burr and Hamilton's legacy is determined by one fatal duel. Not suprisingly, royalty is well-represented, including the bitter verbal fireworks between Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. Politicians are also major players with larger-than-life personalities like Stalin, Trotsky and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Even though the outcomes of the notorious feuds Evans explores are common knowledge, he skillfully maintains suspense by teasing readers with some of the little-know facts and mysteries that surround them. What stands out in each fascinating case is how hate clouds common sense, how losers sometimes win and winners often lose and, as Evan observes, "history isn't always written by the winner." Agent, Ed Knappman.
|Ch. 1||Elizabeth I versus Mary||5|
|Ch. 2||Parliament versus Charles 1||27|
|Ch. 3||Burr versus Hamilton||49|
|Ch. 4||Hatfields versus McCoys||67|
|Ch. 5||Stalin versus Trotsky||85|
|Ch. 6||Amundsen versus Scott||109|
|Ch. 7||Duchess of Windsor versus Queen Mother||129|
|Ch. 8||Montgomery versus Patton||151|
|Ch. 9||Johnson versus Kennedy||169|
|Ch. 10||Hoover versus King||191|