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Grins of NC
5.0 out of 5 starsMy Crazy Ancestors
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2020
Amazing that my family survived all this. It explains a lot.
5.0 out of 5 starsChapter 8 "Deep in the Shades of Ill-Starred Georgia's Wood"
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2013
I haven't had time to read most of the book, but there was about 30 pages of my family history and their lives in Varnell's Station, GA and the murder of Joseph Standing, Mormon Missionary. My great uncle, William L. Kaneaster, wrote a bit of the his family and the happenings of what he had seen and heard as a young man. I had always wondered what the rest of the story was. Now I know and it makes sense. That story alone made the book well worth my time and money. Thank you.....jane
4.0 out of 5 starsThere's a reason why we have courts of law
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2013
Long before the Ten Commandments, there was something called the Noahide Laws, or the Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah. Aside from the obvious ones, like don’t steal, worship idols, or mouth off to your mom & dad, it also says set up courts to hear disputes. Now the reason for the last one is simple; without courts, we’d have no choice but to seek revenge for every slight. Blood in the Hills is essentially about how a man’s life wasn’t worth much in the Appalachians, and that law was based on revenge. The first few chapters are all about mass murders by Cherokee Indians, brigands, and paramilitaries in this lawless region. Next comes a chapter on how the slaves were abused, then free Black people were targeted, then the hostility extended to newcomers, strikers, vacation homeowners etc. Life was cheap.
All stereotypes aside, the Appalachians, like the Deep South, don’t have a good reputation; mean spirited gun-toting natives, few jobs, lousy schools, alcoholism, drug addiction, and promiscuity. Despite the bucolic features, there’s widespread pollution from the mines. The TV special Hidden America: Children of the Mountains shows that there’s still alcoholism, but now there’s prescription pill addiction too. The kids are hungry, and despite the vast empty lands, nobody’s growing any food. This region seems devoid of motivation, and as Thomas Sowell points out in Black Rednecks and White Liberals, there’s a dislike for people that try to improve things.
It wasn’t just the hill towns that were violent; the city of Roanoke had riots over a Black suspect in a crime. Mobs of White man tried to storm the jail and lynch him, and they didn’t care about the lawmen or state militiamen guarding the jail. They had no tolerance for the law at all, and their motivation for wanting to kill the suspect had little to do with fear, and more to do with “he’s encroaching on our turf.”
Some of the material in the book was covered in All God’s Children by Fox Butterfield. In that book, the author claims that Black-on-Black killings are a habit learned from Southern Whites, who learned it from their Scottish ancestors. I learned about southern killing culture back in college, when a professor showed us photos of lynchings. Many of these photos were printed as souvenir postcards; there were people crowding around, kids eating ices, and all the while a dead body was hanging from a tree. The professor compared it to drive-by shootings, where kids shoot each other over insults. In the south, the word “no” was an insult, and all insults had to be avenged.
Killing someone? That was like stepping on a cockroach. There was no value placed on a man’s life.