Waller argues that the legendary feud was not an outgrowth of an inherently violent mountain culture but rather one manifestation of a contest for social and economic control between local people and outside industrial capitalists -- the Hatfields were defending community autonomy while the McCoys were allied with the forces of industrial capitalism. Profiling the colorful feudists "Devil Anse" Hatfield, "Old Ranel" McCoy, "Bad" Frank Phillips, and the ill-fated lovers Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield, Waller illustrates how Appalachians both shaped and responded to the new economic and social order.
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While Waller's study is invaluable for Americanists, she has written an engaging work that, quite simply, is an enjoyable read.Publishers Weekly
In her remarkably detailed analysis, Waller explains what legend does not. . . . Since history repeats itself, this book bears reading as both factual record and metaphor, with a jaundiced eye toward the present.Georgann Eubanks, Washington Monthly