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The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story Hardcover – May 14, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* More than a century after the violence ended, the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys still evokes images of snaggletoothed rustics with a gun in one hand and a jug of moonshine whiskey in the other. The recent dramatized series on the History Channel attempted to present a more realistic view while regenerating interest in the affair. King, who served as an advisor on that series, goes much further in this well-written, superbly researched, but depressingly grim chronicle. The two families lived in relative harmony for generations astride the Tug River, which forms the current boundary between Kentucky and West Virginia. The families traded with each other and even intermarried. The roots of the conflict, according to King, are found in the political and military tensions generated by the Civil War. After the war, the tensions quickly escalated into violence, which intensified as economic factors, family loyalty, and outside interference complicated matters. King paints an unrelentingly sad portrait of families locked in a tragic struggle from which even moderating members seemed unable to withdraw. This is an outstanding reexamination of a mythic but all too real and savage story. --Jay Freeman


"Fast-paced....Scrupulously documented....The Feud is popular history as it ought to be written."
---Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

"4 Stars."
---Matt Damsker, USA Today

"King's well-researched narrative confidently separates hearsay from fact, and bulges with bloody set pieces and visceral family passions which exploded into savage fighting that went on for nearly a decade."
---Matthew Price, Boston Globe

"Well-documented, authoritative, and entertaining....King has done an admirable job of research, and his able narrative matches the convoluted, bloody facts."
---Mark Gamin, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The definitive account of the riveting as it is informative."
---Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch

"A fast-paced...fascinating and lurid tale. King's entertaining chronicle sheds new light on a legendary chapter in American history."―Publishers Weekly

"Well-written, superbly researched....An outstanding reexamination of a mythic and savage story."―Booklist

"Engrossing....Riveting yet nuanced...Highly recommended."
---Claire Houck, Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316167061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316167062
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dean King is an award-winning author of nine non-fiction books. You can learn more about him at or keep up with him on Facebook. King has chased stories across Europe, Asia, Africa and now Appalachia. His goal is to draw you into a nuanced and accurate historical narrative that allows you to live with the characters, to feel their pain, striving, and joy, and to grow with them. He rides the camels, climbs the 14,000 foot passes, walks the yard-arms, and tracks down far flung sources. (He was shot at beside the Tug River while researching his latest book, THE FEUD.) Then he writes and edits until his knuckles have no skin, his elbows ache, and his family is looking for him, all to give you pleasure in lean and meaningful prose. If he makes you eager to take his book to your favorite easy chair or crawl into bed and curl up with it, he's happy. If you learn something or feel changed, then all the better. King's writing has appeared in Granta, Garden & Gun, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, New York Magazine and the New York Times. He is a contributing editor of Virginia Living and a nationally known speaker, who has been the chief story-teller on two History Channel documentaries.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"One look at the eye-catching Rosanna McCoy with her wavy auburn hair and Johnse (Hatfield) was captivated." This was a classic Romeo and Juliet saga played out in Appalachia, the best-known family feud in America.

But bestselling author Dean King makes it clear that the McCoys and the Hatfields of legend were cut from the same cloth, united in their distrust of government and their hard-won adaptation to a hostile environment. The long-standing animosity between them sprang from many causes, not just the elopement of Rosanna and Johnse as often depicted.

King has a way of evoking long-ago events in cinematic style: "Wall (Hatfield) sat on the schoolhouse porch with a double-barreled shotgun across his lap. By ten o'clock, Sally's crying, praying and pleading for mercy neared hysteria. This was irritating and set the men on edge." The book puts us in the frame, chronicling the rise of the powerful Devil Anse Hatfield and his clan, pitted against Randall McCoy and his kin, all of them willing to have "a shooting match, with live targets." A dispute about a hog becomes bloody murder; simple gossip results in violent reprisals. The skirmishes along the Tug Fork River bordering Kentucky and West Virginia continued from before the Civil War, well into the 20th century. Following the ethos of the old country where family was the most important unit, the isolated denizens of the Appalachian region would do whatever necessary to look after their own.

Although there have been other books about the Hatfield-McCoy feud, King's work draws on all available sources to bring this story alive for modern readers.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Barry McCoy on July 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am related to both the Hatfields and McCoys and grew up where the feud took place and lived there for 40+ years. I enjoyed Dean King's book, The Feud. Nobody knows all the facts, but the one fact that remains true today. Both the McCoy and Hatfield families in Kentucky and West Virginia and all over the world have a high respect for one another. The Hatfield and McCoy family would like to thank Dean King for all his research on THE FEUD. It's not everyday a bestselling author decides to write a book about our family. For years Hatfields and McCoys have read books that were one sided. Dean King is the first Hatfield McCoy feud author that took no sides. If you would like to see what the REAL descendants of the Hatfields and McCoys have to say visit THE HATFIELD MCCOY JURY facebook page.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph on July 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes a good read. I was upset for several days after reading this book. I knew most of the details as mother, Alma Mary Hatfield granddaughter of Anse's daughter Mary had recounted to me.
It's what she left out. The atrocities . Much of that had been sanitized out of our family story.
Frankly I used to be proud of my lineage. My blood is tainted by murder.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Jeffries on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have always been fascinated by the Great American Feud, as I'm sure many American history readers have. "Fighting like the Hatfield's and McCoy's" is a buzz phrase countless people have used. This book tells you why. Dean King's book is well researched, well written, and thoroughly explained. The breadth of this feud spans for decades in some of the rawest and wildest parts of Eastern America that are still, in many ways, the same today. It also shows how the scars of the War Between the States affected close friends and families in their different beliefs, and in some cases is still true today. Mr.King's anecdote in the forward is a case in point where he drew gunfire during his terrain walks in the area because he had the wrong guides(i.e. forest rangers vice Hatfield guide). The book is easy to read, notes are plentiful, and references are pertinent. The sections on the main events of the feud, the hog case, Johnse and Roseanne, the killing of Ellison, the execution of the McCoy sons, the McCoy cabin burning, Bad Frank Phillips and the bounty hunters, and the Battle of Grapevine Creek are all there and explained in complete detail. This book is a must read for fans of Americana, students of the Feud, and readers fascinated in the wild lawless times of the late nineteen century Appalachia.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Estes on August 21, 2013
Format: Audio CD
U. Grant Browning...well, more accurately, I am Ulysses Grant Browning, aka the great, great-grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield. Our version as to how Anderson Hatfield was assigned the non de plume of "Devil" was because, as a captain in the confederate army, he and his band of Logan Wildcats, although greatly outnumbered, won a battle at "Devils Knob" and was forever after called "Devil Anse."

As his great, great-grandson, I have read every book I could find about the feud, and Dean King's book on this subject is the best written and fairest treatment of this subject by far. It is not like the writer who wrote an unbiased history of the war between The North and the South from a Southern Point of View.

Dean's book is painfully fair to the descendants of both the Hatfields and the McCoys. This book is a history book which reads like a novel.

Thank you, Dean, for finally bringing to us a basis from which we may continue pursuing this subject from a sound foundation.
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