The notorious gangster Al Capone observed that "Prohibition has made nothing but
trouble," and "I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand." While his
bailiwick was Chicago by way of Canada, the Bondurant brothers in Virginia would
have heartily agreed. Brazen rebels, the Bondurant boys - Howard, Forrest and
Jack - ran a flourishing family bootleg business in Franklin County, Virginia,
where the hills glowed orange from the light of countless illegal stills.
"The Wettest County in the World" began when Matt Bondurant decided to write a
fictional account of the very picaresque exploits of his paternal grandfather
Jack and grand-uncles Forrest and Howard. Though his novel is inspired by true
events, it isn't entirely factual. As he writes in the author's note, "The
basics of this story are drawn from various family stories and anecdotes,
newspaper headlines and articles and court transcripts ... However, this
historical information does not help us fully understand the central players in
this story, at least in terms of their situation or what their thoughts were;
all involved are now deceased and little record exists. There are no letters,
and my grandfather and his brothers did not keep diaries. My task in writing
this book was to fill in the blank spaces of known record. There are family
stories ... and these memories and stories are vague, and often specious at
best, mixed with several decades of rumor, gossip and myth ... My intention was
to reach the truth that lies beyond the poorly recorded and understood world of
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