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The Cock's Spur

Charles F. Price

John F. Blair, Publisher
$15.95 paperback
6 x 9
311 pages
Published in 2000

Hamby McFee dreams of leaving the valley of the Hiwassee in western North Carolina, and cockfighting is his means to that end. A renowned trainer of some of the meanest birds in the pit, he rests his hopes on the aged, much-feared Gouger, the apricot-tinted Pile-Driver, and the strangely calm, lightning-quick Buttermilk.

As the biracial ex-slave of the Curtis family, Hamby practices a loyalty he seldom feels. Fifteen years after the Civil War, he still inhabits the farm where he was once chattel. As Andy Curtis, the leader of the household, drifts into insanity and his once-lovely sister Rebecca withers on the vine, Hamby finds himself assuming all the responsibilities of a landowner without reaping any of the benefits.

The other thread of the story involves Ves Price, the son of a close friend of the Curtis family. Hampered by a lack of good sense, Ves makes enemies in high places during his failed effort at moonshining. Then he turns informant for the Revenue and becomes more hated still.

Cock’s Spur received the Independent Publisher Book Award as one of the Ten Outstanding Books of 2001 and Price was named Story Teller of the Year. It also received the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from NC Society of Historians.


“Following Hiwassee and Freedom’s Altar, winner of the 1999 Sir Walter Raleigh Award honoring the best work of fiction by a North Carolinian, this novel completes a trilogy based on Price’s own family’s post-Civil War quest to put aside defeat and shame and reestablish a semblance of harmony and dignity in their once-idyllic mountains of western North Carolina. . . . Lyrically written, character-rich and authentically atmospheric, the novel affords a deeply affecting insight into the aftermath of war. While this novel holds considerable regional appeal, it could prove a favorite of Civil War-oriented readers as well.”  —Publishers Weekly
“Well-written, . . . cut[s] deeply into the theme of racial prejudice. . .” —Kirkus Reviews