West Virginia Wednesdays

The Hatfields and the McCoys

I  read a very good book about one of the most infamous episodes in West Virginia’s history, Blood Feud: the Hatfields and the McCoys: the Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance.  What I liked about this book is that besides relating the events of the feud, the author explores why it’s still famous a hundred years late.  There were other feuds — the ones the author researched were all in Kentucky — and they are all almost forgotten.  Some of these feuds were longer and bloodier than the Hatfield-McCoy feud, so it wasn’t the violence that made it memorable.  Ms. Alther puts the enduring popularity down to media attention.  T.C. Crawford wrote An American Vendetta in 1888.  The book “reached a wide audience and spawned spin-offs in the form of novels and silent movies.”  It  also created the stereotype of the violent, stupid hillbilly.

We see the media doing the same thing now.  Certain crimes and trials become more well known than others because of how they are written and recorded, not because of anything inherent in the crimes or trials themselves.

Click here to visit the author’s page about the book.


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