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The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Ballad Novel (Ballad Novels) Paperback – August 21, 2012
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“McCrumb's tale is impeccably researched ... McCrumb's novel casts light on the often bleak context surrounding characters who have become legend.” ―Publishers Weekly
“In a story with parallels to Wuthering Heights, McCrumb makes a strong case for a sociopathic servant as the catalyst for the deadly events that ensued.True to the language and culture of its time and place.” ―Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
The story McCrumb has written does deviate greatly from the version that I grew up hearing, and slightly from the way I tell it myself. I knew this ahead of time from reading background info on McCrumb's website, so I was prepared. I was fortunate enough to be able to actually meet the author and discuss the "facts" with her prior to reading the book, and I must say that her arguments made sense to me. Her conclusions about who actually killed Laura Foster and Tom's role in the episode matched what I have always believed. Pauline as the great pathological mastermind struck me as a little far-fetched (I think McCrumb gives Pauline way too much credit for intelligence), but I can accept that. And I know that many folks from the area have taken offense to the portrayal of Laura Foster as less than the virginal victim of a crime of passion. But in this case, she was what she was, and the purity that was attributed to her in death was not the reputation that followed her during her short life.
My one complaint about the book is Zebulon Vance's narratives. I understand that McCrumb is using Vance to balance the portrayal of mountain folks, and he is definitely a stark contrast to the Happy Valley crowd.Read more ›
While McCrumb's research and descriptive powers are strong, as always, the presentation of the story was not appealing or captivating, in the way that I have come to expect and enjoy from the Ballad Novels. First, I agree with the other review, who said that Pauline was a thoroughly unappealing and unsympathetic character. While McCrumb accurately describes her in the Acknowledgements as a sociopath, that was a little late to be putting a label on this characteristic. It would have been helpful to know this from the start. I kept waiting, all through the book, to find out *why* Pauline was scheming to do in Ann and Tom, by association, and why she was just such an icky person (a technical term!). I never got an answer to either question. I imagine that there were sociopaths in the 1860s, but some back-story on Pauline might have made her a character that I was more interested in, as opposed to just slogging through the book to find out what happened.
Second, I learned way more that I wanted to know about Zebulon Vance in Ghost Riders, although I thoroughly enjoyed that book and felt like the feelings, views, and motivations of the characters were well-described and accessible to the reader.Read more ›
SunPost Weekly September 22, 2011 John Hood
On May Day, 1868, in the town of Statesville, North Carolina, a man named Tom Dula was hanged for murder. The victim, a slip of a woman named Laura Foster, had been stabbed to death and hastily buried on a ridge in nearby Wilkes County. Dula was believed to have been the last person to see her alive. More damagingly, Laura had told folks she and Tom were running away together; though in fact they had no such plans. Yes, the two had a long and carnal relationship. But Dula told authorities it meant nothing. He most certainly didn't care enough to kill her.
There was of course a third party to this sordid story -- Dula's married lover Ann Melton, who was also believed to be involved in Foster's death and at the time of the hanging was in jail awaiting her own murder trial. Tom and Ann had been rutting about like wild animals since they both first learned of the birds and the bees. Since that time there'd been a Civil War (which took Tom away for awhile). Then there was Ann's marriage (which didn't take him away from her much at all). For all intents and purposes, these two were meant for each other.
On the eve of his execution, Dula performed what was perhaps the only gallant deed of his short and shiftless life: he wrote out a note claiming sole responsibility for the killing of Laura Foster. As a result, Ann was subsequently freed.
As you've by now probably guessed, the legend of Tom Dula eventually became a song called "Tom Dooley," arguably the most well-known murder ballad every written. But The Kingston Trio's version of the story is just one of the legend's many renderings; it's also factually inaccurate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I hadn't read any of Sharyn McCrumb's books in a few years, so I thought I'd "treat" myself--this didn't disappoint. These people were so despicable!!! Read morePublished 1 month ago by MizzMary
Sharyn McCrumb writes as well as anyone in the literary world and better than most. The historical aspect is intriguing enough, but when you add complex and dynamic characters to a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Justin
Well written book about the fate of poor Tom Dooley, a Confederate soldier who had a problem with women. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lovely Momma
I was very disappointed in this version of Tom Dula. McCrumb went off on a tangent here. She made all her characters seedy and none of them honorable. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Voracious Reader
I love the ballad told in this method. I love Sharyn McCrumb's books and this is one of the best. She makes the characters seem real by staying true to the personalities of... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have loved Sharyn McCrumb since read my first ballad novel. She has never disappointed me. I missed a few books along the way and am trying to catch up. Read morePublished 7 months ago by R K Williams
This book was very well written. I have really liked Sharyn McCrumbs other ballad stories. This one is no different.Published 7 months ago by Gayle H. Stegall