Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900

Altina L. Waller, Author University of North Carolina Press $49.95 (313p) ISBN 978-0-8078-1770-4
The now legendary Hatfield-McCoy feud has served as America's answer to Romeo and Juliet for over a century. In this insightful work, Waller, a history professor at SUNY-Plattsburgh, debunks assumptions that a blighted romance or strong family ties were central to the hostilities. She convincingly argues that the feud operated on several levels: as a clash between an emerging national industrial culture, whose proponents, for reasons of self-aggrandizement, allied themselves with the McCoys, and the autonomous and local mountain culture that the Hatfields embodied; between the south and the north; and between the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. In the process, Waller demonstrates how and why Hatfield-McCoy myths arose and how stereotypes of the feud ``consigned the mountaineers to the unreal world of savagery . . . and industrialization . . . could proceed much more smoothly.'' Demographic data unfold dramatically, and, utilizing eclectic sources, she illuminates both the era and the complex cast of characters involved in the 12-year feud (her portrait of leader ``Devil Anse'' Hatfield is particularly sensitive). A pictorial essay adds another dimension to an already rich piece of scholarship. While Waller's study is invaluable for Americanists, she has written an engaging work that, quite simply, is an enjoyable read. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Paperback - 313 pages - 978-0-8078-4216-4
Open Ebook - 332 pages - 978-1-4696-0971-3
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