by Lisa Alther
Can you dislike a book, yet hold its author blameless? That’s the pickle when reviewing Blood Feud, writer Lisa Alther’s chronicle of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Alther’s problem – and the source of much reader frustration – is that so few records survive from the period of time (late 19th century) and location (West Virginia-Kentucky) of the decades-long family feud. As the author puts it, “Almost every incident in this feud has several conflicting versions that blame different participants, depending upon whether its source supported the Hatfields or the McCoys. But which conveys what really happened? No one can possibly know except the participants themselves, and they are all long dead, the truth buried with them.” But Alther perseveres with insight and, appropriately enough, gallows humor.
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