Folk Justice in the Upper South
The "State Line Country" of this book is a rugged area of small farms on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Historically the area has had a homicide rate more than ten times the national average.
In this gripping and penetrating study of violence and death in the State Line Country, Lynwood Montell examines the local historical and social conditions, as well as the prevailing attitudes and values, that gave rise and support to rowdy behavior and homicidal acts from the Civil War to the 1930s. The area fostered, he thinks, a culture of violence. Drawing from vivid oral accounts, which he recorded from present-day residents, Montell describes more than fifty killings that took place in the area, locating them against a background of farming, moonshining, and sawmilling activities common in that country. In addition to reconstructing the homicides, he analyzes their key features, including the circumstances under which they took place, the relationships of the persons involved, the presence of precipitating factors (such as deadly weapons and alcohol) in the culture, and attitudes toward law enforcement officers and the courts.
This close examination of homicide in the State Line Country, which views the tradition from regional and national perspectives, adds a significant dimension to the study of homicide in the South.