- Barbara Watkins
This is a work of fiction that is actually closer to the truth than not. Sharyn McCrumb’s careful research has resulted in an exciting and informative book about the well-known story of Tom Dooley. You may remember The Kingston Trio's hit song called Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley. His actual name was Tom Dula, pronounced Dooley in the local dialect of the North Carolina mountain residents of the 1860s. Many of us know the story--or think we do, but Sharyn McCrumb’s research has revealed a slightly different story, well-backed up by her evidence. This in itself makes The Ballad of Tom Dooley worth a read.
In the backwater area of North Carolina after the Civil War, a dashing young man had an adulterous affair with a young married woman. She is murdered, and he is hanged for the crime. Was Tom guilty of the crime? Was it just an affair or what would have been a lasting romance? What really happened? Sharyn McCrumb’s new evidence adds another layer of intrigue to this mystery. She points to the family servant of the murder victim, Pauline, as a most likely participant in the crime. Pauline was manipulative, jealous, and wanting a better life for herself. It is interesting to see how her plans evolved into one of the most famous true American folk stories.
A good read.