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Days of Darkness: The Feuds of Eastern Kentucky Hardcover – November 15, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Provides an overview to the major conflicts while laying to rest various mistaken notions about the feuds."―Journal of Appalachian Studies"

"If you are pursuing interesting stories of Kentucky's past; if you are seeking an entertaining mythology; if you find the evolution of oral history fascinating or are just curious about feuds in Eastern Kentucky, then read John Ed Pearce's Days of Darkness."―Lexington Herald-Leader"

"Taken as a chronicle of several different feuds, the book succeeds admirably."―Lexington Herald-Leader"

"A study of the feuds of Eastern Kentucky―six in all―and how the violence and brutality they were known for influenced the perception of the Appalachian region of Kentucky."―Chevy Chaser Magazine"

"Recounting shatters old myths―feuds did not result from insignificant squabbles, and many feuders were not ignorant 'hillbillies,' but rather prominent businessmen and college graduates."―Kentucky Monthly"

"Pearce untangles the loose threads of conflicting testimony to present the reader with the real truth on six of the bloodiest and longest-running feuds in the history of Kentucky."―Lone Star Book Review"

"While the Hatfield-McCoy feud received the most notoriety, there were a number of other similar family conflicts going on in the mountains of eastern Kentucky during the period 1875 to 1920. . . . You can learn more about all these feuds and more."

Modern Mountain Magazine"―

About the Author

John Ed Pearce worked on the staff of the Louisville Courier-Journal for forty years and was a widely published columnist. He was co-recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in 1967.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (November 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813118743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813118741
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David M. England on July 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a genealogist that have family that came to central Kentucky from Clay County, Kentucky. I also made sure growing up, that the one article that I did not fail to read in the daily Louisville Courier Journal, was John Ed Pearce's article.
Most only know about the Hatfield-McCoy feud and do not realize that there were larger and more deadlier feuds. John Ed Pearce is the first writer of the feuds that allowed me to grasp the connection between the 100 years war in Clay County, and its negative effect on the social and economic development in this area, and why so many people migrated away from this area for better (and safer) opportunities to raise their families. Contrary to another reviewer, John Ed does an excellant job of weaving his storytelling skills with the research and oral interviews that he conducted for this subject and does not perpetuate but reports the facts of this era, whether you like the facts or not...they existed. When people are afraid to have a light on after dark in town for fear of someone shooting through the window, some sterotypes are reality. The hillbilly stereotypes were developed and perpetuated by the media, and is acknowledged by Mr. Pearce, and credited in photos that were staged of the Hatfield-McCoy feudists that were staged by a magazine photographer of the era. The interviews that he conducted personally would have never come to light if it had not been for Mr. Pearce and some of those he interviewed may have already passed. I am thankful that he had the contacts to find these interesting individuals and put down their story on paper.
I had the pleasure and honor to have a brief e-mail correspondance with Mr. Pearce during his retirement in Florida before he died, about some topics of interest to me in his book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Frazier on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Being a descendant of the Eversoles portayed in the French/Eversole feud, this book was like walking back into history and meeting them face to face. Wonderful job John.
Its no wonder you won the pulitzer price. I have recommended this book to everyone I know researching the families of Eastern Kentucky.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Frazier on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Being the descendant of the Eversoles It was great to see this book get the kind of coverage it recieved. Mr. Pearce has done a wonderful job by interviewing hundreds of descendants of the patriarchs of the feuds. It no wonder he received the pulitzer prize!!! I enjoyed the book a great deal and have recommended it to everyone I know doing Eastern Kentucky research.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sue on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a very compelling, honest look at the history of the Feuds that took place in Kentucky.Very well written and should be read by every person interested in State History.The names have not been changed and this book makes the area come alive, for good or bad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hexagram of the Heavens on July 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Hatfields and the McCoys and all the rest are here, in all their drunken rages and stupidities. JEP's writing occasionally is a little hard to follow in that there are so darn many similar characters in the various feuds that it's hard to follow the who's who of it when he fails to re-identify the context of a character when that person comes back onstage, and that's the reason I docked it a star. On the other hand, there is no other source for a lot of this material, which the author scoured the back roads and archives of Kentucky to put together.

There was some reference made to the Kentucky feuds in the book "Outliers" (the book with the "10,000 hours" trope), claiming that the feuds came out of a kind of medieval Scots "Braveheart" ethic, which I don't feel is altogether born out by this more authoritative book, which probably would have refuted "Outliers" directly on that count if it hadn't preceded it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Terry on January 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book a great deal. The author covers the feuds or wars of eastern Kentucky from the time the area was settled until the last of the feuds died out in the 1930's. I was somewhat familiar with some of them, some of them not so much. It covers the Hatfield McCoy feud though not in as much detail as other books dealing only with the one subject. It covers others in much more detail. For example the Clay County War lasted almost a full century from the start to the final acts. Honestly the Hatfield McCoy feud was fairly insignificant compared to some of the others but the Hatfield McCoy feud in it's final days caught the attention of the sensationalist, yellow newspapers of the day while the others didn't. This book gives good coverage to the ones that aren't well known. The author really gives a good flavor of life in the area during this time when eastern Kentucky had the highest murder rate in the country. Good church going, civic minded community leaders shooting each other from ambush. The author readily states that he was hard pressed to find heros in any of this. These feuds were not fought by ignorant, barefoot, backwoods hillbilles but for the most part by the leading citizens because they were mostly about money and power - revenge certainly played a role but money and power seemed to be the driver. It's a good reference work as well as a very entertaining read. The author writes with humor with such things as an election day being fairly calm with relatively few gun fights. The author freely says in many cases there are different versions of what happened in a particular instance. In some case he offers an opinion as to what happened. In others he simply states the different versions and that there seems to be no way to know now exacty what happened. If you're a history buff, it's a very enjoyable read and a good book for later reference.
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