The Wettest County in the World: A Novel Based on a True Story

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 14, 2008 - Fiction - 320 pages
*The inspiration for the major motion picture Lawless*

Based on the true story of Matt Bondurant’s grandfather and two granduncles, The Wettest County in the World is a gripping and gritty tale of bootlegging, brotherhood, and murder.

The Bondurant Boys were a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who ran liquor through Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and in the years after. Howard, the eldest brother, is an ox of a man besieged by the horrors he witnessed in the Great War; Forrest, the middle brother, is fierce, mythically indestructible, and the consummate businessman; and Jack, the youngest, has a taste for luxury and a dream to get out of Franklin. Driven and haunted, these men forge a business, fall in love, and struggle to stay afloat as they watch their family die, their father's business fail, and the world they know crumble beneath the Depression and drought.

White mule, white lightning, firewater, popskull, wild cat, stump whiskey, or rotgut—whatever you called it, Franklin County was awash in moonshine in the 1920s. When Sherwood Anderson, the journalist and author of Winesburg, Ohio, was covering a story there, he christened it the “wettest county in the world.” In the twilight of his career, Anderson finds himself driving along dusty red roads trying to find the Bondurant brothers, piece together the clues linking them to “The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy,” and break open the silence that shrouds Franklin County.

In vivid, muscular prose, Matt Bondurant brings these men—their dark deeds, their long silences, their deep desires—to life. His understanding of the passion, violence, and desperation at the center of this world is both heartbreaking and magnificent.

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User Review  - delta61 - LibraryThing

This is a slice of American history brought on by the depression, lack of education and alcoholism. Violence is a given. It follows the American tradition of making outlaws into folk heroes. It is a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Rdra1962 - LibraryThing

I agree with other readers who felt that there is a great story here, but it was slowed by the author's use of a writer trying to research the tale. The time-jumping did not add to or enhance the ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Matt Bondurant is the author of three novels, the most recent of which is The Night Swimmer. Lawless—previously published as The Wettest County in the World—was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 50 Best Books of the Year. His first novel, The Third Translation, was an international bestseller, translated into fourteen languages worldwide. He currently teaches literature and writing in the Arts and Humanities graduate program at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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