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As of late I have been reading The Wettest County in the World, a novel by Matt Bondurant. For anyone who went to the theater to see the movie Lawless with Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf, this book provided the context and most of the substance for the film’s screenplay. If you are a fan of reading about American History or simply enjoyed the film, this book would be a nice addition to your collection.

Bondurant paints an intriguing picture of his grandfather and two great-uncles – Jack, Forrest, and Howard – as they made their living as bootleggers. Set in the foothills of rural Virginia, the Bondurants did what they had to do to provide for themselves during the Great Depression and Prohibition by making and distributing high proof liquor. In a time and place where the law had to play by the moonshiner’s rules, the author takes readers through the transformation from local sheriffs to the integration of top Federal Officers aimed not necessarily at stopping the manufacturing and distribution of whiskey – they just want their cut of the earnings. Thus unfolds “The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy,” which ultimately lifted the veil of silence surrounding the alcohol saturated activities of Franklin County.

Violence, vigilance, liquor, greed, brotherhood and more are all wrapped up into this moonshiner legacy. The Wettest County in the World will not only take you back to Virginia in the 1920’s and ‘30’s and make you feel the hunger, intoxication and cruelty of that era, the author will impress you with his eloquent prose and vivid interpretation of what his ancestors lived through, making Matt Bondurant an unparalleled storyteller.


Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.