Monday, January 29, 2007

Hatfields and McCoys

Book Cover: Feud: Hatfields, McCoys and social change

While we're thinking about West Virginia history, we should remember that Sid Hatfield was kin to Anse Hatfield, and the other participants in the famous feud. Here's my favorite book on the topic.

Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 by Altina L. Waller. 1988. University of North Carolina Press. This is a scholarly book, but very engaging. Waller avoids simplistic explanations of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Many older references explain it as the natural violence of the inbred, degenerate hillbillies, while more recent authors present it as the exploited natives driven to violence by outsider-capitalists. Waller examines the feud in the social context of its place and time, and bases her account of the community on contemporary resources such as court records, deeds and wills. There are good pictures. (I always like pictures.) The link includes some reviews of the book by authorities in the field.

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