The Feud That Wasn’t (Nonfiction)

James M. Smallwood, Texas A&M University Press, $29.95, Hardcover.
James M. Smallwood, Texas A&M University Press, $29.95, Hardcover.

This book has more violence per page than anything I’ve ever read. Rather than a feud of any kind, the action here entails murders, robberies and rustling by an organized, influential ring of vicious outlaws —the Taylor-Hardin gang of East Texas. Yup, I mean John Wesley Hardin. Beyond that, I was intrigued by the detailed peripheral information about post-Civil War Texas—its failed reconstruction, weak law enforcement and local Ku Klux Klan terrorism. It’s impossible to enumerate all the nefarious activities of these bad guys, but the book contains generous notes, an extensive bibliography and an index. Smallwood knows the way nonfiction should be written.

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