"Marvelous....THE FEUD is popular history as it ought to be written." Wall Street Journal
Nearly every American has heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys. The violent feud between these two families has become shorthand for fierce, unyielding, and even violent confrontation. Yet despite numerous articles, books, television shows, and feature films, until THE FEUD nobody has ever told the true story of this legendary clash in the heart of Appalachia.
Drawing upon years of original research, including the discovery of previously lost and ignored evidence and interviews with surviving relatives of both families, Dean King has crafted a rip-roaring narrative packed with brutal murders, reckless affairs, mercenaries and detectives, and the long shadows of the Civil War. The result is an unvarnished and vastly entertaining work of history.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
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About the Author
Dean King is the author of the national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara, Unbound and A Sea of Words. He has written for many publications, including Men's Journal, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Granta, Outside, and the New York Times. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story
By Dean King
Little, Brown and CompanyCopyright © 2014 Dean King
All rights reserved.
War Comes to the Big Sandy
Prior to the Civil War, the Tug River Valley essentially ignored calendars and resisted progress. There were no roads, no rails, no schools, and no churches in the area. The transcontinental telegraph system, which crossed the nation in 1861, bypassed the region. Telegraph service would not arrive in the valley for three more decades. Barricaded as they were in mountainous cul-de-sacs, locals spoke a dialect barely recognizable to outsiders, a tongue more Elizabethan than modern Victorian, using yit for yet, mought for might, seche for such, and the word allow to mean "figure." They added es to form plurals like nestes. They afeared witches and haints. Questions from outsiders made them techeous (a state in which they were best avoided). The forest that enveloped them and, along with the hills, shaped their lives—a part of what the botanist-explorer William Bartram dubbed the sublime forest—was still dense, vast, and virginal.
One day in the fall of 1854, when he was fifteen, Anse Hatfield went out in the forest to bag some squirrels for the stew pot, something he had done many times before. Gangly, on his way to six feet, Anse, whose mother called him Ansie, was always on the move, slipping adroitly through the trees, already with the signature Hatfield slouch in his gait. His hawk-nosed intensity and nasal twang were cut by a penchant for practical jokes and a raucous and infectious laugh. Like his father, Big Eph (pronounced "Eef"), he liked to wrestle, but not more than he liked to hunt. Wearing a buckskin coat and carrying a rifle, powder, and balls, he set loose his pack of hounds, led by three trustworthies named Rounder, Fife, and Drum. No sooner had he let the dogs go than they scared up a large spike-horn deer.
The trio went tearing off after it. As the buck topped the ridge of Big Pigeon Mountain, Anse took into account the distance and the rise, leveled the barrel of his gun considerably above it, and squeezed the trigger. But his prey was too far away. It disappeared over the ridge with the dogs in hot pursuit. Anse was concerned. This buck had legs and might lead his dogs beyond return. There was plenty of trouble to get into among the intricate bends and folds of the woods here, almost no stretch of which was flat. Boulders, roots, and rocky streams hid beneath the leaf cover and behind rotting logs. In slicks, where lightning strikes and landslides had felled the trees, grew thick snarls of laurel, myrtle, huckleberry, and rhododendron that could trap a hell-bent hound like a steel cage. It was easy to get lost here, no matter how acute one's sense of smell or direction. Anse, worried yet confident in his mastery of the place, set off at a fast trot.
He raced through the undulating wilderness, past trees festooned in ghastly hues of old-man's beard. Here and there antler lichen clung tombstone-like to trunks living and dead. The Mingo chief Logan, like many of the Indian tribes that had once roamed the place, had welcomed white traders and settlers to his tribe's vast sacred hunting ground, until 1774, when they murdered his family. Then Logan had attacked white settlements with ferocity. "When the good soul had the ascendant, he was kind and humane," the chief later explained, "and when the bad soul ruled, he was perfectly savage and delighted in nothing but blood and carnage."
By 1824, the Indians were gone, and the Virginia General Assembly created Logan County, which would eventually form nearly half of the state of West Virginia. Within a year, the last known bison in the county (and, indeed, in all of Virginia) were killed. Still, young Anse stalked a stretch of the Great Forest where elk roamed and where wolves and wildcats—the latter called variously cougars, catamounts, pumas, panthers (pronounced "painters"), or mountain lions by the locals—prowled.
When Anse did not return home for supper, his mother, Nancy—the illegitimate daughter of the scandalized daughter of Abner Vance—began to worry. She told Big Eph that she was afraid that Anse was hurt. He told her not to worry: the boy was every bit as "stout as a bear." Big Eph, a six-foot-tall, dark-complected, blue-eyed, Bunyanesque man of 250 pounds who had once treed and killed a wildcat with a butcher knife he carried in a scabbard, was a shrewd judge of these things. He laughed when Nancy suggested that a bear might have attacked Anse. "If a bear even gets a glimpse of a man in the woods, then he goes the other way," he assured her. "Besides, Ansie has hunted so much, he's a dead shot." The boy was used to pursuing not only deer and squirrels but raccoons, possums, and groundhogs, along with grouse, wild turkeys, and ducks. He even knew how to shoot a swimming turtle in the head so that it would not sink. "No bear is going to get in speaking distance of him," Big Eph declared. And then he added, "Why, I seen him shoot a squirrel's eye out in the top of a tall hickory when I couldn't even see the squirrel before it fell." Anse, he knew, could do a man's work and could fend for himself.
But the next day, Nancy was even more worried that a bear might have gotten Anse, who, no matter how stout and sure of shot, was still just a boy. Nancy, like her son, was tall, strong, and smart. She was graced with her mother's features: a high forehead, a thin nose, and a square chin. Only ten of her eighteen children would survive childhood, but those who did were, like her, sturdy and intelligent. Able to read and write, she owned a medical book and served as the area's midwife, which yielded her a wide network of friends. Between her tutoring and the will of the family to improve its lot, eight of her grandchildren would go on to become doctors. Now Nancy decided something must be done to find her boy. Big Eph and their oldest son, seventeen-year-old Wall, rode over to Ben's Creek, to the east, where two Hatfield uncles lived, to see if Anse had stayed there or stopped by for a meal. He had not.
In fact, as the stag thrashed off through the woods, Anse had set out too fast, stumbling to his knees before he even made it up Big Pigeon. Cursing, he jumped up and moved his gear back in place as he made his next stride. But a breathtaking mile later, when he gained the top of the ridge, the buck had vanished. Stopping to consider his next move, Anse sensed that something was not right. He reached down to his shot pouch—it was too light. When he stumbled, he realized, the shot had all fallen out.
"There I was with my gun shot empty, bullets lost, and that spike buck aleadin' every dog I had clean out of the county," he would recall. He decided he could not afford to go back, for if he did, he might never see his hounds again. He had to stay on their heels.
Following the buck's and dogs' trail along the top of the ridge, Anse lost track of time. It might have been an hour or two later when he looked down and saw something that stopped him cold: about sixty yards below the ridge, curled up on a carpet of leaves, lay a colossal black bear. Anse's eyes grew big. This was a rare chance to bag a monster that would keep the family in bear steaks and grease for months to come. Then the truth of his predicament caught up with him: His bullets lay in the dirt several miles back. His pack of hounds was running wild after the spike-horn. He was standing before this incredible prize with no way to claim it.
Anse's frustration turned to rage. "The longer I stood," he later said, "the madder I got." He cursed the god who would do this to him and, after leaning his now worthless gun against a black pine, ran down the slope of the mountain yelling and waving his arms. The startled bear awoke and scrambled to its feet after a maniacal Anse planted a boot in its backside. The bear tore off down the slope, covering twenty paces to get to a chestnut oak large enough to climb. It shinnied up the tree, lodged in a fork thirty feet off the ground, and stared down at its pursuer. Breathing hard and still in a rage, Anse stared back. Then he stripped off his jacket and shirt and began flailing the tree with them, all the while shouting at the animal above.
The bear decided to wait it out aloft. Caught between his missing dogs and his spilled shot, Anse did the same below.
Two hours later, the dogs found him. They had given up on the buck and circled back. Now they got wind of the treed bear and started howling. Anse stood watch all night as the passing moon lit the woods around him.
He stayed in the same spot through the next day. He had nothing to eat and nothing to drink, and his mouth grew drier and drier, but he refused to stand down.
It was sometime after midnight on the second night when he looked up and saw on the ridge what he recognized as the light of a pine torch. He hooted like an owl, a Hatfield family signal. A hoot came in return. Hearing the call of their clan, the dogs began to bay. Soon Wall and a neighbor, Peter Brooks, stood next to Anse. When they asked him if he was hurt, he responded, "Hurt? The devil! The only one that got hurt here is a four-year-old bear. I kicked his behind so hard with my boot that he took to a tree."
They gave Anse a slab of venison that his mother had sent for him. He divided it among his hungry dogs, having decided that he would eat nothing until he took his prey. The only problem was that Wall and Brooks had brought neither guns nor shot. They tried to convince Anse to come back with them, but he refused. Realizing it was futile, Wall finally asked Brooks to go get bullets for Anse's gun. Before he could return, however, Big Eph and a gang of men showed up. They handed Anse a gourd full of water. He pulled out the corncob stopper, tilted his head back, and gulped it down. Then, taking the bullets they offered him, he loaded his gun, took aim, and bagged his first bear.
A short time later, after he returned home with a panther he had shot, Nancy declared her boy "not afeared of no kind of varmint nor of the devil hisself!" She called him Devil Anse after that. The nickname would prove apt to friend and foe.
A contemporary of Daniel Boone, who pushed through the Cumberland Gap in 1775, opening up the "West" to settlement, Devil Anse's great-great-grandfather Joseph Hatfield was considered one of the ablest scouts and woodsmen on the western frontier. The family had arrived in western Virginia from England by 1770, building forts for protection against the Indians and hunting bears in the Alleghenies. Intermarried with Dutch, French, and Germans, the Hatfields were a staunch blend, "tall and muscular, with a good share of brains and will-power," according to an observer in 1887. "They are a high-spirited family, but are kind, neighborly, and just to all who treat them just."
In 1776, some Hatfields, along with the Bromfield family, were living by the New River near Big Stony Creek. One night, unbeknownst to each other, a Bromfield and a Hatfield both went to the same salt lick. One—though it is not known which—took the other for a bear moving in the brush and shot him dead.
In the years to come, as neighbor turned against neighbor, not every killing would be so accidental.
Of the four sons of Joseph Hatfield's son Eph (known as "Eph of All"), three—Joseph, George, and Jeremiah—lived on the Kentucky side of the Tug, mostly in Pike County. Only one, Valentine, Devil Anse's grandfather, settled on the West Virginia side. Eph of All's four sons would sire more than fifty children, and brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins would move across the Tug with ease—on foot where it was shallow.
Likewise, the McCoys, who had reached Kentucky by 1804, lived on both sides of the Tug and came and went as they pleased. The families were on good terms with each other and were intermarried on both sides of the river. In fact, Tug Valley dwellers in general were so intertwined that in 1849 they petitioned to move the Virginia-Kentucky state line so that the entire valley would lie within Virginia. "The present line," they noted, "divides neighborhoods, friends and relations." Among the signers were more than a dozen McCoys and Hatfields, families linked together by business and politics, in addition to marriage.
This same year, Randall and Sarah McCoy fell in love and married. They were first cousins descended from William McCoy, who in 1804, having been awarded two hundred acres of land in Virginia (now part of Kentucky) for service in the Revolutionary War, had settled in the Tug Valley. Four of his ten sons eventually continued west, but the others and two daughters had planted the McCoy seed on both sides of the river. Like John Knox, the dogmatic founder of Scottish Presbyterianism, the Scots-Irish McCoys had strong traits. They were socially democratic, believing intensely in the equality of all men. They were austere, like their forebears, who had lived in turf huts in the Scottish Lowlands, hardened to discomfort, and adept at survival. While they might accept a friendly hand from a neighbor they could repay, they turned their backs on charity. They would starve before they would beg.
One thing you did not do lightly was cross a McCoy. The family had a fierce streak beyond most. "The McCoys had a reputation for being hospitable to strangers," Jim McCoy, a nephew of Randall, the family patriarch during the feud, would later say, "but a person better look out if he ever stole anything from them." As an example, Jim cited his cousin Leland, who had a prized plum tree in his backyard. "Once every day for a week, he found plums missing from that tree," Jim recounted. "Finally he decided he was gonna fix whoever it was who was taking those plums. So, he put poison on the tree." The fruit was never stolen again. The thief died.
By 1850, William's son Sam had become wealthy, owning 1,500 acres of prime land. Living outside Stringtown, Kentucky, he and his wife, Elizabeth, reared eighteen children, including Sarah, better known as Sally. Sam's younger brother Dan was less fortunate. Unsuccessful in business, he was considered quarrelsome and shiftless by his neighbors. He and his wife, Peggy, moved their children (there would be thirteen in all), including Randall, their fourth child, born in 1825, to Logan County, Virginia, when Randall was a boy. But Dan could not make a go of it there either. To help pay for their farm, Peggy raised and sold hogs; she also sold a snakebitten horse that she had rescued. When Dan lost the farm in a lawsuit after he had been timbering on their neighbor's property, she decided that she would be better off without him and took the then-unusual step of divorcing him.
Cousins Randall and Sally started out in Logan County but after a while moved across the river to Pike County, where they set out to build a life and a family on property given to them by her father.
Despite the generations of harmony, the warm feelings that united the two sides of the Tug evaporated in the spring of 1861 when Virginia seceded from the Union. The Big Sandy River and the Tug Fork became part of the Confederacy's western border and a fault line in the division among the states. On one bank was Kentucky, which stayed neutral but would go Union the next year. On the other was a portion of Virginia that would become part of West Virginia and a Union state in 1863, although many of its people would remain fiercely Confederate. Mixed sentiments persisted on both sides of the river, but it was a decisive border, cutting families like a saber. Almost all of the Hatfields and McCoys on the Virginia side of the river stood with the Confederacy, and almost all of the Hatfields and McCoys on the Kentucky side went with the Union. Randall McCoy was an exception. His Virginia ties ran deep. He chose the Confederacy.
By the fall of 1861, when Union colonel and future president James A. Garfield maneuvered his Eighteenth Brigade into the Kentucky side of the Tug Valley to secure strategic troves of salt, iron ore, timber, and coal, the larger conflict had rent the social fabric of this section of the Appalachians. Here, in the nation's oldest mountains, amid some of its most convoluted and confounding terrain, the war was personal and ignited rampant raiding and feuding. The families on either side knew the enemy, and more than any patriotic feeling, their own honor was at stake, because in these parts a man simply did not allow another man to tell him what to do or take anything from him. Here, where most people lived hand to mouth, his family's survival was at stake.
The men who lived in these mountains had learned to fight from the Indians and had honed their craft of wilderness warfare—defending, tracking, ambushing, killing—and used it against them, until they had secured the place for themselves. They had a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality. They wrestled and fought for fun. Now they turned their sights on each other, and they excelled at the bloodletting.
Excerpted from The Feud by Dean King. Copyright © 2014 Dean King. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
The Hatfields: A Selective Genealogy xiv
The McCoys: A Selective Genealogy xvi
Prologue: The Fate of Cotton Top Mounts, February 18, 1890 3
Part I Bad Blood, 1854-1882
Chapter 1 War Comes to the Big Sandy, 1854-1862 15
Chapter 2 Un-Civil Warfare, 1863-1865 31
Chapter 3 Timbering the Sublime Forest, 1865-1877 40
Chapter 4 The Importance of Razorbacks, 1878-1880 49
Chapter 5 Moonshine and Love, 1880 64
Chapter 6 The Wages of Love, 1880-1882 79
Chapter 7 Tumult on Election Day, August 7-8, 1882 89
Part II The Rage and the Outrage, 1882-1887
Casualties, 1864-1882 102
Chapter 8 Mountain Justice, August 9-10, 1882 105
Chapter 9 Life After Death, 1882-1884 119
Chapter 10 Taking Names and Keeping a List, 1884-1886 128
Chapter 11 A Double Whipping, 1886 138
Chapter 12 The Enforcers, Spring, Summer, and Fall 1887 152
Chapter 13 Diplomacy Failed, Fall and Winter 1887 168
Part III The January Raids and Their Aftermath, 1887-1888
Casualties, 1864-1887 182
Chapter 14 A House Burning, December 31, 1887-January 2, 1888 185
Chapter 15 The Death of a Soldier, January 1888 193
Chapter 16 Bad Frank and the Battle of Grapevine Creek, January 18, 1888 206
Chapter 17 Disorder in the Courts, February-May 1888 220
Chapter 18 The Lawmen, 1888 236
Chapter 19 Yellow Journalists on the Bloody Border, February-October 1888 251
Part IV The Hunters and the Hunted, 1888-1898
Casualties, 1864-1888 274
Chapter 20 The Trial, 1888-1889 277
Chapter 21 The Bitter End, November 1889-February 1890 292
Chapter 22 After the Hanging, 1890-1895 297
Chapter 23 The Last Murders and Manhunt, 1896 309
Chapter 24 The Last Dance: Cunningham Gets His Hatfield, 1898 322
Coda: March 4, 1913 333
Epilogue: Mine is the Vengeance 337
Selected Bibliography 403
What People are Saying About This
Dean King has written a riveting and detailed account of the legendary blood feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. Put aside everything you thought you knew about these infamous folks. This expertly researched history provides a new and fresh chronicle of two families torn apart by war and betrayal. Mr. King takes you into the hills of Appalachia with a keen eye and a fearless search for the truth. The story that emerges will fascinate and surprise you.—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker's Wife
You know you're in for a wild ride when you sit down to read a Dean King book. And that's what we get in The Feuda thriller-like, in-depth look at a darkly iconic slice of Americana. Highly recommended.—Marc Leepson, author of Saving Monticello
With the detailed eye of a historian and the confident strokes of a veteran novelist, King takes us on a wild ride through a roaring slice of Americana.—David Baldacci
Shakespeare had his Montagues and Capulets, but say the word "feud" to any American, and only one comes immediately, universally, almost reflexively to mind: Hatfields versus McCoys. And yet hardly anyone knows what America's most legendary blood feud was really all about. Dean King, an elegant and adventurous writer, has dug through the encrusted layers of lurid lore and banjo-plucking atmospherics to understand the rich context behind this tragic and fascinating clash of families. The result is a fully-realized work of American history that spans state lines and generationsand resonates powerfully today.—Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Blood and Thunder and Hellhound on His Trail
A masterpiece. I knew The Feud would be well-written and exhaustively researched and reportedthat's the kind of writer Dean King isbut I little suspected what a page-turner it would be. From its first few pages, when a young, unarmed Devil Anse Hatfield kicks a black bear up a tree, to its satisfying finale, I was spellbound. The last word on the daddy of all American blood feuds.—James Donovan, bestselling author of A Terrible Glory
With a master storyteller's talent for pacing, character and detail, Dean King transports us to the remote ridges and hollows of the West Virginia-Kentucky borderlands and into the lives of a people as rough-hewn as the landscape they inhabit. With a historian's penchant for accuracy, King separates fact from fiction, writing with such vividness you can smell the wood smoke and the gunpowder, the stink of the whiskey still, and the pungence of revenge. Ambitious in its sweep, The Feud is a haunting story of pride, heartlessness and heartbreak.—James Campbell author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a great combination of painstaking research and forceful prose. I have been in many of those hollers over the years, but never with much thought of the early, pre-coal, history of the place. The feud is often mentioned. Everyone knows about it, but no one seems to know much about it. This book fills that gap and is a great, hard-to-put-down read.
I liked this book very much. It was very interesting and moved along at a good pace. I had long heard about this feud and often wondered exactly what it was about. Obviously, being in a war changes people, and they live with the buried emotional baggage of killing other people for a long time without realizing what strong emotions and reactions stem from trying to rid oneself of the damage. Not that war is not often necessary. Enslavement would be worse. A map would have been nice, though with this narrative. It was hard to keep the locations straight when following the interaction of the people and their relatives and friends.
Unlike other books written of the famous feud this one delves further into the history of the two clans. There was a time when the two families were friends and lived companionably until the misunderstanding which led to the lengthy feud. Great piece of American history.
This book's chronological order helps the reader understand the before, during and after of the Feud by painting a picture. Dean supports this picture with facts from many sources. The quotes from interviews with people who lived during and after the feud coupled with the stories does an amazing job of making the reader feel like he understands the times and those involved. I love the personal connection through the words of the eyewitnesses. This separates the reality from rumor. Dean also found previously unearthed evidence and never before heard stories that help everyone understand more than just the feud but what occurred at the end of the feud and after the feud.
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite Dean King, author of The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story, digs deep into the history of the feud and both families to find the truth behind the legend. The legend begins much like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Rosanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield were attracted to each other but their families were filled with hatred. The irony in this story is the similarity in character of both families. They lived in the Appalachian Mountains and they had little use for the government. While the legend depicts love as the cause of the feud, in reality that had little to do with the animosity between the two families. I’m not sure the Hatfields or the McCoys knew why they hated each other. They were willing to murder in a dispute over a hog, burn cabins, and execute young men including a mentally handicapped male. It seems that in the mountains there is a different type of law and justice, one mandated by the most accurate shot and bitter hatred. Over the last few years there has been a lot of interest in this mountain feud. Say the word 'feud' and many people think of the famous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. We’ve taken fact and romanticized it into legend when in truth it was a bloody nightmare. Dean King takes the romance out of the story and stands on the facts. The Feud is one of the best researched and most comprehensive books on this topic. The author has stated the facts without taking sides. Kudos to Dean King.
This is well-told history. The material has a natural drama to it. King wisely preserves this tension in the primary and secondary sources while adding a sprinkling of his own refinements. He enlivens the history without sensationalizing it--a tough balance. So many biographers and historians nowadays spoil the soup with too many spices. Several other narrative techniques recommend King's latest book. For one, he chooses his paragraph breaks wisely. They preserve clarity while driving the story forward. Second, his word choice is masterful. He chooses words from the Anglo-Saxon word bank and includes local slang and kennings. These give teeth and authenticity to the writing. Third, he aptly balances quotes from the feud principals with his own descriptions. The quotes are inserted in the scenes where they are most informative and punchy. Also, King refrains from interrupting his set pieces with interpretation. Interpretation happens selectively, inviting the reader to render his or her own judgments. Fourth, the frequent gunfighting is told realistically. Fear on both sides of the feud is in evidence. King brings it a sense of loss to the legend, too. There is a sense of wildness, fertility, and danger in the landscape. Finally, the book works as an entertaining group biography. Devil Anse Hatfield stands out from the pages. He is a a regular folk legend like Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone. I look forward to more works from this author.
So different when compared to the movie. These people doled out their own kind of justice. Vicious and opportunistic killers. I doubt honor had much to do with this feud. I think most of the violence was due what the Civil War (North and South home guard) did to each others families.
You always here about the Hatfields and the McCoys whenever there is a dispute. However, I had no idea the extent to which it really went to. Or, that in 2001 it was still kind of going on and only put on hold by an agreement both families signed to honor those who died on 9/11. It's amazing the way the Hatfields held off law enforcement and impacted local and state elections to their favor. This book is well written and gives a great account of incidents from both families point of view along with those documented in court papers and goes behind the scenes to search for the truth of stories printed in the papers both local and national.
U. Grant Browning…well, more accurately, I am Ulysses Grant Browning, aka the great, great-grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield. Our version as to how Anderson Hatfield was assigned the non de plume of “Devil” was because, as a captain in the confederate army, he and his band of Logan Wildcats, although greatly outnumbered, won a battle at “Devils Knob” and was forever after called “Devil Anse.” As his great, great-grandson, I have read every book I could find about the feud, and Dean King’s book on this subject is the best written and fairest treatment of this subject by far. It is not like the writer who wrote an unbiased history of the war between The North and the South from a Southern Point of View. Dean’s book is painfully fair to the descendants of both the Hatfields and the McCoys. This book is a history book which reads like a novel. Thank you, Dean, for finally bringing to us a basis from which we may continue pursuing this subject from a sound foundation.
A thorough and riveting history of America's most famous feud.
I WON THIS BOOK FOR FREE ON GOODREADS FIRSTREADS GIVEAWAY This was an interesting book. It covers the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys during the 1800s. The author spoke with descendants of these families, so you get some of the family stories that were handed down through the generations. The way this feud was portrayed on television varies, on some important parts, from what the author actually found out through historic records and information from descendants. I gave it 3 stars, because I felt that, in certain chapters, there was an excess of information that didn't necessarily pertain to the actual feud or the families. Overall, I found this book to be an interesting read, especially if you are a history buff.
Most of us have heard of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud but know little about it. “The Feud” brings the events to life as the well as the loves and hates of the feudists who lived them. The setting is along the Tug River where it forms the border between Kentucky and West Virginia during the post-Civil War period. The characters are the two families and their allies. The nanms are entertaining: Devil Ans, Preacher Ans, Good Elias, Bad Elias, Cotton Tops and Crazy James to mention a few. The causes? No one knows for sure but the Civil War (McCoys-Union, Hatfields-Confederate), hogs, love affairs and possible DNA abnormalities have all been suggested. The events involve ambushes (some the result of mistaken identity) home attacks, kidnappings, extralegal executions, brawls, stabbings and shootings. Spikes in crimes were observed during election campaigns and days. I was fascinated by the interaction of the feudists with the law. I was surprised by the importance of alliances of local officials and the off and on involvement of police, prosecutors, courts and politicians in what bordered on a war between Kentucky and West Virginia. The Feud did not exist in a vacuum and feudist was not an occupation. I occurred in the hill country of logging, farming and moonshining. In the end it was economic development that compelled authorities to pressure for a termination of the raging national embarrassment to their states. Author Dean King has produced a book that is informative and a good read. Near the beginning he tells of being run off from a Feud site by gunfire before obtaining the cooperation of relatives in the area. So far as I can tell he seems to have presented a balanced picture. This has been confirmed by reviewers from the area and families. He makes excellent use of the vernacular in dialogue. Although The Feud happened over a century ago there is something modern about it. Just as Romeo and Juliet are reflected in West Side Story, so the mountain feud bears a resemblance to modern urban gang warfare. I enjoyed it and am sure that you will also.
I have heard about the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys since I was little. Until now, I had no real appreciation of that event or how it impacted the history of Kentucky and West Virginia. Dean King takes the reader through the events that lead up to the death of one Hatfield and the revenge killing of three McCoys and how events spiraled out of control as authorities tried to gain control of—or profit from—the violence. Dean King draws upon years of original research, using previously unknown evidence and interviews with surviving relatives to separate fact from fiction about the most famous feud in American history.
I have read many books on the Feud over the years and there is no question that this is the best book hands down on the reasons for the blood shed. All of the information is backed up with notes for reference. If you have ever wanted to read about the Hatfield and McCoy feud this is the book.
It's interesting to read about the various facts of the Hatfields and McCoys! However, I felt that the book goes off on some unnecessary side stories. They're interesting to learn, but I felt they weren't necessary to the overall story.
This book reads like a history book. Lots of names and dates but the content is excellent depicting how the feud most likely started and continued through many years.
Great investigation into previously unknown facts. Wish there had been maps and better identification of locals.
I found it very interesting and informative however there were so many characters that it was difficult to determine who was who.