Jason Ryan’s ‘Swamp Kings’ Dives Deep Into Murdaugh Dynasty

“King-like power …”

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While books about the expansive ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga have been dropping like hotcakes since the conclusion of Alex Murdaugh‘s double homicide trial last year, none have delved into the history that led to the family’s stronghold over the Lowcountry … until now.

Journalist and author Jason Ryan released his latest book ‘Swamp Kings‘ in early-April after spending two-and-a-half years researching and writing an exhaustive account of the events that ultimately concluded with Alex Murduagh’s conviction of the murder of his wife and son on March 3, 2023.

According to Ryan, his “unique contribution” to the story was focusing on the long and complicated history of Hampton County – a history which offers a roadmap to the corruption uncovered during Murdaugh’s epic fall from grace.



In discussing the book, Ryan said credit for the title should go to his wife – but once the words were uttered, he knew it was perfect.

“You know, the importance of the swamp – it’s a place where the Murdaughs could only exist the way they have – these generations that have held power in Hampton County and the surrounding counties,” he said, “And, you know, they were the kings in that they had other titles over the years … (but) it was a king-like power.”

Ryan’s colorful descriptions of the Lowcounty region in which the Murdaugh family rose to power gives readers insight into how one family used the cover of law to rule with impunity. The narrative of ‘Swamp Kings’ effortlessly weaves the past with the present throughout the book – showing how decades of power and privilege came crashing down under the weight of its own hubris.

Ryan said while writing, he realized the stories didn’t align perfectly – but when stacked together patterns of behavior dating back to Alex’s grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Jr., repeat over and over across the years.

“Alex learned very well at his grandfather’s knee,” Ryan said. “It makes you wonder if he was even explicit about it, you know, ‘Here’s how you do it.’ Or if it’s just passed down naturally, and it’s something instinctual in them.”



Spending years digging through county archives and court records, conducting interviews across the region, and attending Murdaugh’s six-week trial last winter clearly paid off. In a story that garnered international media attention, Ryan uncovered tales so wild that were they attached to any other family, they would almost seem unbelievable.

From a murder-for-hire plot of a former mistress to a catastrophic boat crash with eerie similarities to the one that took the life of Mallory Beach, Ryan’s book shares stories that were once mere whispers among the Lowcountry community – and expertly frames them (and explains their significance) to the broader narrative we’ve all watched unfold over the past few years.

To Ryan, the Murdaugh family reminds him of the alligators that roam the Lowcountry as apex predators.

“It’s amazing they seem so lazy and still and then all of a sudden, they’re in action like that, and just grabbing their quarry,” he said.

Even for those who followed every twist and turn of the Murdaugh saga as it unfolded, Ryan’s 464-page book brings plenty of surprises and delves deeper into the history of the family once considered the “Swamp Kings” than any author has to date.

To order your copy of the book, click here.



Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at



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1 comment

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VERITAS Top fan May 15, 2024 at 11:20 am

Jason Ryan’s highly-rated “Swamp Kings” is by far the best yet dive into the Murdaugh family actors. Historical. Factual. Compelling. Disturbing.

The Murdaughs really were “swamp kings,” taking into servitude the South Carolina political, judicial and law enforcement system, starting with suicide of Randolph Murdaugh Sr and the $100k fraudulent lawsuit won by Randoloh Murdaugh Jr. in the 1940′. AleX learned from the masters of deceit that people were nothing more than objects to be used and abused. How these men for nearly 100 years were able to sit on their thrones and exert the power, influence authority and deceit over everyone they encountered is perhaps the reason why so many are intrigued to learn more the Murdaugh mafia enterprise, including help from the PiMPED law firm.

Maggie and Paul were victims in the end but they, too, embraced their lives of wealth and entitlement and kept their mouths shut to keep the money flowing, like everyone else in this debased, corrupt, dysfunctional, criminal and sick family and all the others bought and paid for and kept shaking in their shoes out of fear of retaliation.

To complete the story, Valerie Bauerlein’s highly-rated book “The Devil at His Elbow: The Fall of a Southern Dynasty”, is set to be released August 20. This book focuses more on Alex, the murders and the “trial of the century”.


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