“A captivating account of two families whose stubbornness and loyalty were exceeded only by their capacity for a terrible revenge.” —Southern Living
The Hatfield-McCoy feud has long been a famous part of Appalachian history, but over the years it’s become encrusted with myth and error. Novelists, motion picture producers, television writers, and others have neglected to separate fact from fiction, and sensationalized events that needed no embellishment.
Using court records, public documents, official correspondence, and other sources, Otis K. Rice presents an account that frees, as much as possible, truth from legend. He weighs the evidence carefully, avoiding the partisanship and the attitude of condescension and condemnation that have characterized many of the writings concerning the feud.
He also sets the feud in the social, political, economic, and cultural context of eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By examining the legacy of the Civil War, the weakness of institutions such as the church and education system, the exaggerated importance of family, the impotence of the law, and the isolation of the mountain folk, Rice gives new meaning to the origins and progress of the feud. These conditions help explain why the Hatfield and McCoy families, which have produced so many fine citizens, could engage in such a bitter and prolonged vendetta.