What readers say about "A Passel of Hate"

      "A Passel of Hate is one of the best books I've read this year.  The Characters are finely crafted, the action is fast paced, and the historical details are both interesting and accurate."

Military Writers Society of America

(Silver Medal Award for Historical Fiction 2012)


“Epley does a thrillingly effective job fleshing out his many characters (there are no one-dimensional heroes—or villains—here), and he lavishes attention on the kinds of real-world details too many historical novelists gloss over—readers will learn as much about trail rations and camp organization as about higher political ideology, and Epley’s undemonstratively evocative prose and tightly controlled narrative keep it all interesting right up to a well-orchestrated climax at the battle of Kings Mountain and its bittersweet aftermath. Enthusiastically recommended."

Historical Novel Society Review

Editor’s Choice



“Joe Epley’s new book, “A Passel of Hate,” is a riveting yarn about the brutal struggle for this nation’s independence.  Brothers fight brothers, neighbors fight neighbors in the Carolina backcountry during the weeks following the destruction of the Continental Army in South Carolina.  It is a time where passion for vengeance is often greater than the passion for liberty.”

 OverMountain Victory Trail Association Newsletter



“Epley’s well-researched story of western North Carolina families and the climactic events which shaped their lives centers accurately around the 1780 British invasion. Their struggles tore families apart and culminated at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The very human side of military campaign contravened the essence of British Southern strategy, to win hearts and minds as well as military victories. Epley's prose vividly paints the close-up, historic picture of world-changing events that happened in the Carolina piedmont through the words, sights and senses of those common folks, our forebears who lived it.   He tells the Kings Mountain story better than I have ever read.”

Charles B. Baxley, Publisher

Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution





“I truly enjoyed how the author wove the story into a vivid image of the major issues our ancestors faced in winning the revolution…. It is one of those books you hate to see the pages getting close to the end because you want it to keep going.”

Lieutenant General Colby Broadwater  (US Army -Retired)

President, American College of Building Arts




"A Passel of Hate" rates 5 stars, hands down in my opinion. What better combination than Historical Fiction and an excellent story following characters that you'll grow to love and hate as the sad but (generally) true tale progresses toward its fated end. I absolutely loved this book, and I think the first thing I'll do, now that I've finished it, is to read it again. 

Following the lives of early Americans struggling to raise families in a largely untamed land that's become all the worse for a rebellion that splits friends and family down the lines of Whigs and Tories, who occasionally have enough sense in their heads to ally themselves against the common enemies of dishonorable men and Cherokee raids largely supported by English advisers and supporters. 

The Pro's - excellent story, very well told, and though it is fiction, I love the fact that you can see the dirt and grit on the faces of the men and women living these stories, and know that their lives are not dissimilar to the lives of their real-life counterparts in the late 1700's. The plot develops very well, and the characters become so human that you'll likely be as torn as they were themselves when killing their own neighbors, friends, and occasionally family because of hasty decisions that they were often forced into making to begin with. 

The Con's - I would have liked to have known a bit more about the real history behind this story, but even this is somewhat of a mixed con because I'm now motivated to look into the matter myself, which is one of the reasons I love reading historical fiction. My only other complaint is that I now have to wait until Mr. Epley writes his next historical fiction. Seriously, it was that good. 

Thanks for the great read! 

Palmetto Review



‘In "A Passel of Hate", Joe Epley weaves fiction and historical fact into an exciting and little known story about the American Revolution in the Western Carolinas.  It should be a must for libraries, book clubs, historical societies, and patriotic groups.’

                                    Hobie Cawood

                                    former Superintendent, Independence National Historical Park

                                     and retired President of Old Salem Museums and Gardens



“As an avid history buff -- particularly of the American Revolution -- I found this book to be better, more interesting and more readable than some of the actual histories written about the Battle of Kings Mountain. Mr. Epley knows how to tell a story that holds the reader's attention throughout, and his characters really do seem to come to life. Good job!”

                                    Brig Gen Jerry Dalton, USAF (ret)

                                    Dallas, TX



“A Passel of Hate" is an excellent read and historically definitive. The characters are alive. Jake Godley serves as a great vehicle to tie the Kings Mountain story together, I could feel his hate for Rance Miller coming off the pages; hell I wanted to shoot Rance Miller. It is a primer for anyone who is trying to understand the fighting in Afghanistan, where much as our revolution, families are divided against families. Cowpens and King's Mountain started Cornwallis on his road to ultimate surrender at Yorktown, his professional army beaten by "Talented Amateurs" like Marion, Morgan, Greene, and yes Hampton leading the "ragged rugged warriors" of our fledgling army. The guerilla tactics are still taught in the Training of our US Army Special Forces (The Green Berets), and if one looks carefully, one could probably see Jacob Godley nodding his head as he watches a SF trainee sneak up on his enemy.
                                                Col. John N. Tobin, US Army (Ret)
                                                President, Special Forces Association



“When I learned that North Carolinian Joe Epley had published "A Passel of Hate", I thought it would be yet another book about the Civil War. I was surprised and delighted to find this compelling book was about the Revolutionary War, and I didn't know that the Revolutionary conflict extended to the South. But that wasn't the biggest surprise; the best surprise was that Mr. Epley had turned out not a dry history or recounting of the facts, but a very lively, readable, page-turning account of real people, real reactions, real personal conflicts. His gift for personalizing some of the dusty historical figures we've only heard about is superb. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes sentences that move swiftly and a story that glides and soars. I'd even recommend this wholeheartedly to my English friends. I was sorry to have finished it in only two readings; it was over too soon. Don't miss this book.

                                    Kent McKamy

                                    New York City, NY



“Epley does a masterful job of spoon-feeding historical fact, and that by itself is satisfying. But history is best when personal, and as he weaves the fictional part of the narrative with the historical, you feel the frictions and divides as brother fights brother, neighbor fights neighbor, against the backdrop of the birth of a country. The story crackles with fine details; I felt like I was cleaning the rifle; I was traveling alone on unchartered paths with Cherokees on one ridge and the British on another; and I was asked to take aim and fire.”

                                    William Fitzpatrick

                                    Greenville, S.C.



 “In his epic story A Passel of Hate, Joe Epley takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of both ordinary and extraordinary people, breathing life into history. We see and feel the story of Kings Mountain through the imaginings of an author who delicately weaves fact and fiction together. Epley’s portrayal of family life in small mountain communities, fierce love and dedication to home and heritage, and the horror and honor that comes with one’s duty to both is sure to delight readers of history, buffs of battle, and students of life.” 

Carolyn Ward

President, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation



            "Engaging and exciting. Epley’s words bring life to an incredible chapter in American history."


Robin Lattimore

2009-2010 North Carolina Historian of the Year

President, Rutherford County Historical Society
Chairman, Rutherford County Library Board of Trustees



“As an avid history buff -- particularly of the American Revolution -- I found this book to be better, more interesting and more readable than some of the actual histories written about the Battle of Kings Mountain. Mr. Epley knows how to tell a story that holds the reader's attention throughout, and his characters really do seem to come to life. Good job!” 
                                                    Brig Gen Jerry Dalton, Dallas, TX

Retired Chief of Public Affairs, USAF




 “The author includes ample history, military strategies and tactics and historical figures.  He uses some fictional characters within a creative and wrenching plot to illustrate how the split allegiances between American Revolutionary loyalists and patriots tore apart communities and families.   And he weaves fiction and history to show the turmoil resulting from invasion, plundering and destruction.”

The News Leader (Landrum, SC)


            “The author aptly labels the lengthy battle in the interior of the Carolinas that led to King’s Mountain as a ‘civil war’ by dramatically recounting the horrors of neighbors and families pitted against each other.   The real and imagined characters are so rich in detail, the battlefield gore so tough to bear, and the story lines so skillfully drawn that readers will feel immersed in the historical realties, and the personal tragedies and triumphs of numerous heroes and villains from all sides.

            The narrative is spiced with spine-tingling action during a battle that left so many dead and wounded during 61 minutes from first shot to last.  

            This intellectual testament to all sides of the campaign displays Epley’s understanding of the grace and foibles of human nature.  This is ably portrayed when war-weary, vengeance-satiated and grieving Jacob Godley finally proclaims, “I’m done fightin’, ain’t got no hate in me no more,” and his commander replies, “Son, don’t confuse hate with duty.” 

This exhilarating exchange exemplifies the consistent time-sensitive and fitting dialogue conjured by Epley throughout the book. 

             At the 150th commemoration of the King’s Mountain battle, President Hoover said, “History has done scant justice to its significance, which rightly should sit beside Lexington, Bunker Hill, Trenton and Yorktown.”  He’d be pleased that Epley’s A Passel of Hate rights that wrong.”

Jack J. Prather,

award-winning journalist, poet and writer, and the author of two novels, two strategic public relations guidebooks and a poetry book.



“Joe Epley’s work doesn't start when the storied fighters climbed up the obscure ridge we now know as King's Mountain.  These frontier fighters were not magical heroes who appeared from a cloud. These were real people who chose over a summer's worth of strife to step onto a stage they had no idea was historic.

A Passel of Hate tells how they - and the families they put in danger - chose to take a brutal stand for their homeland in a time of brutality. These are real people, described brilliantly with faults, cowardice, heroism, pains, failings, and dreams that led to history. They were not cast for that role. They chose it. But their stories are here in events that had to play out until there was no hate left.”

Bob Sweeny

Historian, founder and former president

Overmountain Victory Trail Association



 “Epley’s straightforward prose efficiently drives the plot. A barrage of characters introduced in rapid succession in the first few chapters bogs things down a bit, but once the major players are established, Epley falls into a nice rhythm. The level of historical detail here is stunning, but period touches are introduced naturally and never in such detail or quantity as to slow things down. After the initial character introduction and scene setting, the action accelerates at a steady clip, leading to a satisfying climax. The characters are so well-crafted that it’s difficult to tell the historical figures from those created by Epley, as they all seem fully believable. Most importantly, Epley provides evenhanded treatment of both sides of the conflict. He paints a war fought by real, predominantly decent people with heartfelt but irreconcilable ideas, rather than a black-and-white battle between good and evil.

             A well-crafted, immersive historical novel, with just the right level of period detail.”

                                                Kirkus Review



"I found A Passel of Hate very difficult to put down. It’s one of those rare books that is so vivid, I could almost picture the people, locations, and many other details, as if I was sitting in the middle of it all in person. "

Bob Giblin,

Jefferson, WI




“Post Civil War revisionist sought to erase from history books any positive contribution made by the South in this Nation’s struggle for independence.  With research that rivals Mitchner, the author puts into perspective one of the most significant events in the Revolutionary War.  Coupled with his experience as a Green Beret and his native familiarity with the area, Joe Epley injects emotion into the historic battle of Kings Mountain and as the title implies, A Passel of Hate brings to light the bitter hostility and cruel atrocities committed by neighbor against neighbor and even among family members.  Culminating in the victory by an unorganized sharpshooting militia over a well trained Loyalist army, the work details the beginning of the end of British rule over the colonies.”

                                                Osborne Oakley / Military Historian

                                                Highlands, NC

                                                Author, “Trained and  Ready”



“This is a great novel on the Battle of King's Mountain – I can't recommend it enough.”                                  

                                     Scott Syfert                  

                                                Charlotte NC,   attorney and historian

                                                Author “The First American Declaration of





“Neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. Before reading Joe Epley's fascinating and factual tale, I only thought these phrases described The Civil War. But geography of North and South melt away in the turmoil of The Revolutionary War when a fence between farmers not only divided pasture but also loyalties to King or newly declared Independence. Epley skillfully personalizes this epic struggle through the eyes of five brothers who find themselves in the crossfire of the times. A must read for anyone interested in the South's underappreciated role in the struggle for the revolution, and a revelation for all Americans of how a rag-tag band of mountaineers and farmers changed the course of history.”

                                    Mark De Castrique

                                    Author of mystery novels



“My brother Ambrose gave me your autographed copy of “A Passel of Hate" because he knows I love history and genealogy. Enjoyed the entire book and you really "drew a picture" of the times and places. And I have to say that this is the first time I have read about the actual Battle of Kings Mountain and been able to follow it and visualize it. So many writers get so bogged down in military positions and "guy stuff" that I would miss the point of the actions. You clinched it perfectly! I have now purchased a copy for my history loving son and will recommend it to my Mills and Hampton relatives. Thank you so much for writing such a terrific historical novel.”

Beth Mills Elliott

Descendent of Tory and Patriot colonels at Kings Mountain



I found it to be one of those books that are hard to put down, Mr. Epley has created a cast of characters that are not only real but one finds oneself, trying to put his own ancestors in their role. I became an ardent admirer of Jacob Godley, I found his moral, his ethics admirable, his code of honor is one that all men should strive to rise to achieve. One of the real characters, who was real, and who carved his notch in history, Col. Andrew Hampton, was my 4th great grandfather. Mr, Epley presented him in a realistic manner, I feel I learned more about him, from this book, and about his life, than from either history or family history. Interestingly enough, as the story unfolded, some of my wife, Kerry Kelly's ancestors started showing up, ie, the Campbells and the Russells. Actually one of hers, one Reese Bowen was killed at King's Mountain. I strongly encourage all to read this fine presentation of our American History.”

                                    Larry Murley

                                    Author “Loss of Innocence: A Vietnam Story”



Joe Epley did a wonderful job writing the story of the men and women affected, whether directly or indirectly, by the war.
                                                Rachel Murphy





When most people think of pivotal Revolutionary War battles, they focus on Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Trenton and Yorktown.  In A Passel of Hate Joe Epley shows us the gritty truth about the key battle that took place on the Western Carolina frontier at a place know as King’s Mountain which paved the way for the end game at Yorktown.  The guerrilla war that had been raging in the piedmont of North and South Carolina escalated to a showdown when General Cornwallis sent Major Patrick Ferguson on a mission to recruit a substantial Tory militia in the area of modern Charlotte.  Simultaneously the Whigs were amassing a militia to deal with the threat.  The divisiveness of the times—not entirely unlike present times—saw families taking opposite sides, fighting while hoping not to kill loved ones and returning home to glare at one another across the dinner table.  Husband and wives took opposing sides, as did fathers and sons.  Often objectors were pressed into service on the side they detested under threat of the noose.  Few modern Americans would argue that the Revolution was anything but a just and necessary struggle for freedom, however, this was far from the case at the time.  Loyalists and Rebels were nearly evenly divided with plenty of plenty of the undecided simply wanting to be left alone.  A Passel of Hate tells the story of a decisive battle, and the prelude to it, via the personal viewpoints of the participants, exposing the barbarity perpetrated by both sides as well as the in fighting, primarily in the camp of the Whigs, and the complicating factor of concurrent Indian depredation.  Joe Epley shows us clearly how tenuous and costly American independence really was.


My love of history, and familiarity with the area where the battle took place, drew me to this book and I was not disappointed.  The pace is exhilarating, the depth of Joe Epley’s knowledge of the time and place is astounding and the prose satisfyingly straightforward.  The character development is excellent as well.  I have to say that the reader must pay close attention due to frequent point-of-view changes to avoid becoming lost in the labyrinth of partisan intrigue, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.  I certainly hope Mr. Epley is working on his next offering.

                                    Scott  Skipper

                                    Author: “In The Blood”



“A stirring example of courage and conviction !”

                                    Larry Poe

                                    Columbus, NC



            A Passel of Hate is engrossing and educational. Started it today and am absorbed.

Steve Finch. 

Greenville, SC