17 July 2012

Listen Southside Virginia: The Great Moonshine Conspiracy [Audio Documentary]

from UNC Libraries
Last year I wrote about The Wettest County in the World (Scribner, 2008), which follows Matt Bondurant's grandfather and two great-uncles as they made a living moonshining. It was a hard life for them: poverty was widespread in Franklin County in the 1930s, the effects of the Great War and of Spanish Influenza still weighed heavily on the community, and a drought made making an honest living almost impossible. To make matters worse, the local law enforcement kept a tight grip on the illegal liquor trade by charging high fees for protection from the feds. Going against them was a risk that the Bondurant Boys took - with dire consequences.

from Kirkus Reviews
A little over a year ago, Charles D. Thompson, Director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, wrote Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World. A new audio documentary, put out by Big Shed Media (with assistance from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum at Ferrum College), uses Thompson's research to tell the story of how Franklin County got to that trial in 1935. The documentary puts it in a different light, from the perspective of people whose well-being depended on moonshine and who experienced the Great Moonshine Conspiracy of Franklin County firsthand (or secondhand from his grandparents in Thompson's case).

I heard The Great Moonshine Conspiracy last night on American Public Media's "The Story." Much of the fun of writing my post for Bondurant's novel last year was researching Franklin County's moonshining history (Franklin County is very proud of the legacy, carrying the title "Moonshine Capital of the World"). But I could never write anything as eloquent as this documentary, so I encourage you to set aside sixteen minutes to hear this fascinating piece of history.

from The Great Moonshine Conspiracy | Big Shed


Lawless, the movie version of Bondurant's The Wettest County in the World starring Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain, has just been released with favorable reviews. See the trailer here.

1 comment:

  1. Allison's book club just selected THE WETTEST COUNTY. I told her she needs to start reading your blog :)