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The Feud That Wasn’t: The Taylor Ring, Bill Sutton, John Wesley Hardin, and Violence in Texas (Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce) Hardcover – February 5, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce (Book 15)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603440178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603440172
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,883,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

". . . an excellent book. . . The book will interest anyone interested in Texas history."
(Mexia Daily News 2008-05-09)

"Smallwood offers an impressive reinterpretation of a critical era in Reconstruction Texas and the South."
(The Journal of American History 2008-12-01)

". . . James M. Smallwood adopts the form of popular history-accessible, even dramatic, prose-in the service of the academician's war on myth as history. . . Smallwood builds a firm documentary foundation. . . and balances traditional, local accounts with correspondence from military and civil officials. . . This book significantly raises the bar for popular histories of violence in post-Civil War Texas. . . Smallwood leaves little room for further facile loitering at the crossroads of Old South and Old West mythology. This is popular history with a purpose." - Kyle Wilkison
(Kyle Wilkison Journal of Southern History)

About the Author

JAMES M. SMALLWOOD is an emeritus professor of history at Oklahoma State University. He coauthored Murder and Mayhem: The War of Reconstruction in Texas, published by Texas A&M University Press. Smallwood’s The Indian Texans was part of a five-book series that won the 2006 Texas Reference Source Award from the Texas Library Association Reference Round Table. He lives in Gainesville, Texas.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Mccown on November 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been researching John Wesley Hardin for years. The Sutton-Taylor Feud ... and believe me, it was a feud ... is a huge part of Hardin's story.
For that reason, I picked up a copy with interest. The author lost me when he started talking about cattle rustling in the 1850s. Heck, why rustle in the 1850s? A cow worth a dollar on the range was worth only $1.25 at the tallow-and-hide plants two hundred miles away on the coast. Rustling was not a big deal. Too much work. Only after the great cattle drives started after the Civil War, when cattle worth a dollar or two could be sold in Kansas for $50 or $75 each did rustling get off the ground.
This and other facts--contemporary accounts calling this a feud, for example--knock the premise right out of this book. The author believes his premise ... but he did not convince me, the reader.
Don't waste any money on this.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Yordy on April 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Wesley Hardin was a one-man killing machine who claimed to have shot over forty men to death. His killing spree started at age fifteen and ended nine years later when incarcerated at Huntsville Prison, convicted of second degree murder of a Deputy Sheriff.

How could Hardin get away with murder for that long? The answer is partly provided by James M. Smallwood in his book The Feud That Wasn't.

Smallwood's Thesis

Smallwood's thesis is that the so-called Sutton-Taylor feud was actually an undeclared war between Confederate sympathizer Creed Taylor and his extended clan, and the Texas state authorities represented by the post-war Reconstruction government.

According to Smallwood, Creed Taylor operated a criminal "empire" financed by the post-war burgeoning cattle trade in east Texas. According to the author, the feud was actually the exercise of legitimate law enforcement by state police against a cornpone mafia of the plains.

The Reconstruction state police comprised a large proportion of Negroes (40%) whose previous employment as slaves would naturally result in the holding of grudges against whites in general and white Confederate sympathizers in particular. The arming of so many Negroes to "police" a region populated by hardcore resisters to Reconstruction turned out to be, like so many other post civil war social experiments, a disaster.

Contrary to the author's contention that the conflict was not a feud, it bore all the attributes of a feud. On the Taylor side, the combatants largely consisted of kin and extended family. Both sides engaged in retaliatory vengeance attacks, including outright assassination.
Read more ›
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By Addie Vaughn on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wished to have more information on John Wesley Hardin's geneology but this was still an great and interesting read.
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By Gregory on September 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another good book on this famous feud.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife is a first cousin twice removed from John Wesley Hardin (on his mother's side). This book adds some history to that we have known before, and agrees with what we have known.

It would be a valuable addition to this history to include explicitly the lesson of the tragedy of failure to secure the peace after a war.
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The Feud That Wasn’t: The Taylor Ring, Bill Sutton, John Wesley Hardin, and Violence in Texas (Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce)
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