The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story
By Dean King
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316167062, 448pp.)
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Categories: United States - State & Local - South
For more than a century, the enduring feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys has been American shorthand for passionate, unyielding, and even violent confrontation. Yet despite numerous articles, books, television shows, and feature films, nobody has ever told the in-depth true story of this legendarily fierce-and far-reaching-clash in the heart of Appalachia. Drawing upon years of original research, including the discovery of previously lost and ignored documents and interviews with relatives of both families, bestselling author Dean King finally gives us the full, unvarnished tale, one vastly more enthralling than the myth.
Unlike previous accounts, King's begins in the mid-nineteenth century, when the Hatfields and McCoys lived side-by-side in relative harmony. Theirs was a hardscrabble life of farming and hunting, timbering and moonshining-and raising large and boisterous families-in the rugged hollows and hills of Virginia and Kentucky. Cut off from much of the outside world, these descendants of Scots-Irish and English pioneers spoke a language many Americans would find hard to understand. Yet contrary to popular belief, the Hatfields and McCoys were established and influential landowners who had intermarried and worked together for decades.
When the Civil War came, and the outside world crashed into their lives, family members were forced to choose sides. After the war, the lines that had been drawn remained-and the violence not only lived on but became personal. By the time the fury finally subsided, a dozen family members would be in the grave. The hostilities grew to be a national spectacle, and the cycle of killing, kidnapping, stalking by bounty hunters, and skirmishing between governors spawned a legal battle that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and still influences us today.
Filled with bitter quarrels, reckless affairs, treacherous betrayals, relentless mercenaries, and courageous detectives, THE FEUD is the riveting story of two frontier families struggling for survival within the narrow confines of an unforgiving land. It is a formative American tale, and in it, we see the reflection of our own family bonds and the lengths to which we might go in order to defend our honor, our loyalties, and our livelihood.
Dean King is the author of the national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara. He has written for many publications, including Men's Journal, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Granta, Outside, New York Magazine, and the New York Times. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
"A fast-paced...fascinating and lurid tale. King's entertaining chronicle sheds new light on a legendary chapter in American history."
"A masterpiece. I knew The Feud would be well-written and exhaustively researched and reported-that's the kind of writer Dean King is-but 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 American feuds."
-James Donovan, bestselling author of The Blood of Heroes and A Terrible Glory
"Well-written, superbly researched...an outstanding reexamination of a mythic...and savage story."
"Shakespeare had his Montagues and Capulets, but say the word "feud" to any American, and only one comes almost reflexively to mind: Hatfields versus McCoys. And yet hardly anyone knows what it was really all about. Dean King, an elegant and adventurous writer, has dug through the encrusted layers of lore and atmospherics to understand the rich context behind this tragic and fascinating clash of families. The result is a work of American history that spans state lines and generations-and resonates powerfully today."
-Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Blood and Thunder and Hellhound on His Trail
"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. It will fascinate and surprise you."
-Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker's Wife
"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, writing with such vividness you can smell the wood smoke and the gunpowder, the stink of the whiskey still, and the pungence of revenge."
-James Campbell, author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys
"As a native West Virginian who was close to both families, grew up hearing the stories, and later read every book written on the subject, I am surprised and fascinated by the amount of in-depth original research and anecdotal information unearthed in The Feud. With a novelist's flair for telling a story, King reveals many new and pertinent insights into the characters, relationships and events of that turbulent time in American history. I am a huge fan of King's writing."
-Darrell Fetty, producer of the History Channel's "Hatfields & McCoys" miniseries and the documentary "America's Greatest Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys."
"A thriller-like, in-depth look at a darkly iconic slice of Americana. Highly recommended."
-Marc Leepson, author of Saving Monticello
"A riveting yet nuanced...Engrossing...Highly recommended."
-Claire Houck, Library Journal
"An informed account-both reasoned and reasonable-of the irrational."