The feud between the Hatfields and McCoys is perhaps the most famous family conflict in American history. As legend has it, two neighboring families in the backwoods of Appalachia waged a crude and bloody war against each other over a stolen hog, an illicit romance, and longstanding grudges. Yet the events that took place near the end of the 19th century between the Hatfields and McCoys are part of a much richer and more complex narrative of the American experience.
Anderson Hatfield and Randolph McCoy, the patriarchs of the legendary feud, were entrepreneurs seeking to climb up from hardship after fierce economic competition and rapid technological change had turned their lives upside down. When members of both families took their grievances to court, their dispute escalated into a war between two families and a struggle between two states. "The Feud" reveals more than an isolated story of mountain lust and violence between "hillbillies" — the Hatfield - McCoy feud was a microcosm of the tensions inherent in the nation's rapid industrialization after the Civil War.