Chapter One: The Long Road
In the foothills of middle Tennessee there is a little village called Difficult. Whatever hardship that place name was meant to convey, it could not match the resigned lament of the nearby hamlet of Defeated, nor the ache of lonesomeness evoked by a settlement known as Possum Hollow. It was that kind of land, isolated and unforgiving, if hauntingly beautiful, for the farmers and small merchants who settled the region, families of Scots-Irish and Anglo-Irish descent named Hackett and Woodard, Key and Pope, Gibbs and Scurlock, Beasley and Huffines, Silcox and Gore.
For generations one old road, Highway 70,...