Killings: Folk Justice in the Upper South

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 92%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $17.50   
  • Used (6) from $1.99   


The "State Line Country" of this book is a rugged area of small farms on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Historically the area has had a homicide rate more than ten times the national average.

In this gripping and penetrating study of violence and death in the State Line Country, Lynwood Montell examines the local historical and social conditions, as well as the prevailing attitudes and values, that gave rise and support to rowdy behavior and homicidal acts from the Civil War to the 1930s. The area fostered, he thinks, a culture of violence. Drawing from vivid oral accounts, which he recorded from present-day residents,

Montell describes more than fifty killings that took place in the area, locating them against a background of farming, moonshining, and sawmilling activities common in that country. In addition to reconstructing the homicides, he analyzes their key features, including the circumstances under which they took place, the relationships of the persons involved, the presence of precipitating factors (such as deadly weapons and alcohol) in the culture, and attitudes toward law enforcement officers and the courts.

This close examination of homicide in the State Line Country, which views the tradition from regional and national perspectives, adds a significant dimension to the study of homicide in the South.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An inside look at a way of life that was familiar to many of our early settlers and fellow Kentuckians." — Ashland Independent

"Montell has once again provided a compelling look at mountain people, and he has challenged scholars to think more deeplhy about the world in which these people live." — Georgia Historical Quarterly

"A captivating book of interest to the general reader as well as to the specialist in oral traditions and cultureal history... with ample oral narratives of killings as macabre as any story written by Flannery O'Connor." — Indiana Magazine of History

"Montell has provided a model for local studies tht can contribute to a better understanding of the broader patterns of regional violence." — Journal of American History

"Provides material that other will find highly suggestive about a subject still poorly understood." — Journal of Southern History

"Skillfully reconstructs the lives of real and troubled people in the upper Cumberlands, and his sympathetic reading even of their lethal habits of folk justice lends needed balance and rich texture to a literature that has been too heavily and judgementally focused on the carnage." — Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"An importatnt contribution ot the ongoing dialogue between history and folklore, with much to say to both disciplines." — Southern Folklore

"An important book for a number of reasons. First, it demonstrates the value of folklore in historical work. Second, it provides an excellent example of the significance of oral narratives in determining traditional attitudes. Third, it refines some earlier broader studies of Southern homicide." — Western Folklore

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813108247
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 2/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,034,403
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)