100 books like Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880

By Luke E. Harlow,

Here are 100 books that Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880 fans have personally recommended if you like Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

To outsiders, Kentucky is clearly part of the South. For those of us who live here—especially those who know a little about the state’s history—it can be a little more nebulous. Phillips’ book helps explain why. Kentucky had a lot in common with its fellow states of the first West like Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and those northern states could be a lot more “southern” than commonly understood. Phillips’s book shows how the Civil War remade those regional boundaries, turning the Ohio River into a line of separation between “North” and “South.”

By Christopher Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rivers Ran Backward as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most Americans believe that the Ohio River was a clearly defined and static demographic and political boundary between North and South, an extension of the Mason-Dixon Line. Once settled, the new states west of the Appalachians - the slave states of Kentucky and Missouri and of the free states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas - formed a fixed boundary between freedom and slavery, extending the border that inevitably produced the war. None of this is true,
except perhaps the outcome of war. But the centrality of the Civil War and its outcome in the making of these tropes is…


Book cover of Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

This book reminded me of the deep parallels in the histories of Missouri and Kentucky. I don’t tend to associate Kentucky with Missouri, but Astor’s book really drives home why that is wrongheaded. Both were border states and, during the war, both suffered guerrilla insurgencies, had divided populations, and ended up supporting the pro-Confederate Lost Cause vision of the war. And when so much writing on Kentucky’s history is focused on its white inhabitants, Astor restores agency to its African American residents, showing how they resisted slavery and then, after emancipation, created their own institutions to contest for racial equality in the face of fierce opposition.

By Aaron Astor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rebels on the Border as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rebels on the Border offers a remarkably compelling and significant study of the Civil War South's highly contested and bloodiest border states: Kentucky and Missouri. By far the most complex examination to date, the book sharply focuses on the ""borderland"" between the free North and the Confederate South. As a result, Rebels on the Border deepens and enhances understanding of the sectional conflict, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

After slaves in central Kentucky and Missouri gained their emancipation, author Aaron Astor contends, they transformed informal kin and social networks of resistance against slavery into more formalized processes of electoral participation…


Book cover of Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

I once stumbled onto a celebration of Confederate Memorial Day in a small Kentucky mountain town, but I had always been told that the mountains of eastern Kentucky were a stronghold of Unionism during the Civil War. McKnight’s book helped me understand the complexity of the Appalachian region and its experience of the war. Both armies used the mountain gaps as gateways to invasion, exploited the local residents, and despoiled the landscape. Life in the mountains in the 19th century had always been hard; the Civil War made it a lot harder.

By Brian D. McKnight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contested Borderland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1861 to 1865, the border separating eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia was more than just a geographic marker -- it represented a major ideological split, serving as an "international" boundary between the United States and the Confederacy. The loyalties of those who lived in this mountainous region could not be so easily divided, and large segments of the population remained neutral or vacillated in their support. Location and a wealth of resources made the region strategically important to both sides in the conflict, and both armies fought for control. In Contested Borderland, Brian D. McKnight shows how military invasion…


Book cover of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

When I moved to Kentucky many years ago, the large Confederate memorial on a downtown street was a puzzle to me because I knew that Kentucky had been a Union state. As one historian said many years ago, “Kentucky seceded after the war was over.” Marshall’s book walks us through that process. She covers everything from politics to postwar violence to children’s literature to the resistance efforts of Kentucky’s African Americans as she explains why those Confederate memorials and monuments went up all around the state. 

By Anne E. Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creating a Confederate Kentucky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historian E. Merton Coulter famously said that Kentucky ""waited until after the war was over to secede from the Union."" In this fresh study, Anne E. Marshall traces the development of a Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1925 that belied the fact that Kentucky never left the Union and that more Kentuckians fought for the North than for the South. Following the Civil War, the people of Kentucky appeared to forget their Union loyalties, embracing the Democratic politics, racial violence, and Jim Crow laws associated with formerly Confederate states. Although, on the surface, white Confederate memory appeared to…


Book cover of West

Pamela Holmes Author Of The Curious Life of Elizabeth Blackwell

From my list on extraordinary women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by singular women who have found ways to express themselves and to flourish in the face of doubt. My experience of moving country as a child, family breakdown, losing a parent as a teenager, and dropping out has left me intrigued by other women with the drive to survive on their own terms. Of course, the social constraints a woman must overcome will vary according to when she lived, but common characteristics will be bravery and obstinacy. I’ve now written three novels about women who have succeeded against the odds. I hope the books I’ve recommended captivate you as much as they do me.

Pamela's book list on extraordinary women

Pamela Holmes Why did Pamela love this book?

American settler Cy Bellman leaves his daughter Bess to search for giant monsters in a Kentucky swamp.

It’s a brilliant story of a man’s obsession. But it’s Bess who fascinates.  While others doubt Bellman’s sanity, Bess believes in him. Young and vulnerable, when danger strikes, she’s as fierce as the wilderness her father faces.

She’s left to grow up in the care of an indifferent aunt. When Bess is touched inappropriately by the librarian, the girl takes evasive action. When the yard hand almost rapes her, she fights back, then with a snap, regains her composure to deal with a shocking death.

Davies uses words economically and poetically: they leave me breathless. Though short, the book’s an epic.

By Carys Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Sunday Times (UK) * The Guardian (UK) * The Washington Independent Review of Books * Sydney Morning Herald * The Los Angeles Public Library * The Irish Independent * Real Simple *

Finalist for the Rathbones Folio Prize

“Carys Davies is a deft, audacious visionary.” —Téa Obreht

When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal ancient bones have been discovered in the salty Kentucky mud, he sets out from his small Pennsylvania farm to see for himself if the rumors are true: that the giant monsters are…


Book cover of Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood: Understanding the Life and Death of Richard Reid

Melanie Beals Goan Author Of A Simple Justice: Kentucky Women Fight for the Vote

From my list on Kentucky history.

Why am I passionate about this?

When students ask me if I am from Kentucky, I say “no, but I got here as quickly as I could.”  I chose to make the state my home and raise my family here, and I have studied its history for nearly three decades.  I am drawn to Kentucky’s story and the paradox it represents: on one hand, you have the Derby, rolling hills and pastures, and fine bourbon, but set against that polished, sophisticated image are the stereotypes of a lawless, illiterate, poor state.  As a borderland, not quite north or south, east or west, Kentucky offers a fascinating lens through which to view the nation’s history.    

Melanie's book list on Kentucky history

Melanie Beals Goan Why did Melanie love this book?

Jim Klotter, Kentucky’s preeminent historian, takes an obscure nineteenth-century Kentucky Superior Court Judge, Richard Reid, and uses his life and death to understand the tragic ways southern honor forced men to prove themselves. John Jay Cornelison attacked Reid at his law Mount Sterling law office in 1884, setting off an unexpected series of events. Reid’s story reveals the conflicts between old, traditional southern ways, and the new urban, industrial order, and Klotter tells it masterfully.  The book is filled with suspense and sharp analysis, but it is also a quick read.

By James C. Klotter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When attorney John Jay Cornelison severely beat Kentucky Superior Court judge Richard Reid in public on April 16, 1884, for allegedly injuring his< honor, the event became front-page news. Would Reid react as a Christian gentleman, a man of the law, and let the legal system take its course, or would he follow the manly dictates of the code of honor and challenge his assailant?

James C. Klotter crafts a detective story, using historical, medical, legal, and psychological clues to piece together answers to the tragedy that followed.

""This book is a gem. . . . Klotter's astute organisation and…


Book cover of First Blood

T. R. Hendricks Author Of The Instructor

From my list on thrillers that capture and bring awareness to PTSD.

Why am I passionate about this?

My therapeutic journey with PTSD has been a long and bumpy road that I still work through to this day, close to fifteen years now. Given the silent suffering that so many go through, I feel that the more we talk about and advocate for seeking help the more people we can save. The common thread with my picks is resiliency. The characters face their symptoms and don’t give in to them. If a thriller novel can reach someone because they identify with the struggles discussed in the pages, then maybe that book can be the bridge to them finally getting the help they need.

T. R.'s book list on thrillers that capture and bring awareness to PTSD

T. R. Hendricks Why did T. R. love this book?

The one that started it all.

Prior to being officially recognized, PTSD went by many names. Shell shock for World War I. Combat fatigue/exhaustion in World War II. Vietnam Veterans suffering after returning home were diagnosed with Vietnam syndrome or Post-Vietnam syndrome.

Morrell’s story and the subsequent film adaptation are the earliest recollections I have of a thriller novel and action movie incorporating, and accurately portraying, PTSD in veterans. 

As a boy I loved the story of Rambo and the movie franchise. It’s what fueled my desire to become a Green Beret, and although I never made it into Special Forces, I still proudly served my country. It wasn’t until coming back from Iraq that First Blood really resonated with me on a whole new level.

Morrell paints acute and gripping depictions of what so many Vietnam Veterans experienced; homelessness, aimlessness, joblessness, the inability to reintegrate, flashbacks, anger, resentment, and…

By David Morrell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked First Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



From New York Times bestselling author, David Morrell, comes a classic thriller that introduced the character of Rambo, one of the most iconic action heroes of the twentieth century.

Called “the father of the modern action novel,” FIRST BLOOD changed the genre. Although the book and the film adaptation have similarities, they are very different, especially its unexpected ending and its greater intensity.If you’ve only experienced the film, you’re in for a surprise.

Once they were soldiers. Rambo, the ragged kid whose presence in town is considered a threat. And Teasle, the Chief of Police of Madison, Kentucky. Both have…


Book cover of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Kimberly Nixon Author Of Rock Bottom, Tennessee

From my list on books based on a true story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for the family story, and I have been blessed with a plethora of them. My mother grew up in Appalachia during the Great Depression and faced shame because her mother left the family to commit a felony. Her accounts of a childhood without and sleeping in an abandoned log cabin have been seared into my soul. My father, one of fourteen children during the Great Depression, worked on neighboring farms from the age of seven. History has two parts, the facts and details, but the telling of the story wrangles the purpose and sacrifice of those involved.

Kimberly's book list on books based on a true story

Kimberly Nixon Why did Kimberly love this book?

I sat on my mother’s lap as a child to hear stories of her childhood in Appalachia—no running water or electricity, and the shame brought on by her mother’s escape from that hard life. The setting and the characterizations in Book Woman of Troublesome Creek brought back some of the memories of my mother’s stories.

I came to love the character’s adaptation to the harsh environment, their want for a better life, and the difference one person’s influence can make in a community. The spirit of survival, even with the hardest of circumstances, forced me to cherish this story. It was as if my mother had written this book or perhaps read it to me.

By Kim Michele Richardson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
AN OKRA PICK
The bestselling historical fiction from Kim Michele Richardson, this is a novel following Cussy Mary, a packhorse librarian and her quest to bring books to the Appalachian community she loves, perfect for readers of Lee Smith and Lisa Wingate. The perfect addition to your next book club!
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything-everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome's got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy's not only…


Book cover of Cementville

Rita Dragonette Author Of The Fourteenth of September

From my list on the Vietnam War era by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in war: men may be on the front lines, but women deal with its impact and often struggle to have equal standing. I was inspired by stories told by my mother who was a nurse in World War II and participated in surgery under gunfire and helped liberate a POW camp in Germany. Yet, no one wanted to hear from her because she was “just a nurse.” Fast forward to Vietnam where women were still being marginalized. I wrote The Fourteenth of September to even the playing field by telling a story that was largely based upon my own experience in college during l969-1970.

Rita's book list on the Vietnam War era by women writers

Rita Dragonette Why did Rita love this book?

A great portrayal of how the impact of war becomes part of our DNA whoever we are.

In the summer of 1969, a small town in Kentucky was famously traumatized after the decimation of the entire National Guard Unit it sent to Vietnam, a higher percentage of deaths than any other geographic region in the country. Based upon a real-life incident, this ingenious novel traces the repercussions of grief and loss through every level of the town’s society.

By Paulette Livers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cementville as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cementville has a breathtaking set up: 1969. A small Kentucky town, known only for its excellent bourbon and passable cement, direct from the factory that gives the town its name. The favored local sons of Cementville’s most prominent families all joined the National Guard hoping to avoid the draft and the killing fields of Vietnam. They were sent to combat anyway, and seven boys were killed in a single, horrific ambush.

The novel opens as the coffins are making their way home, along with one remaining survivor, the now-maimed town quarterback recently rescued from a Vietnamese prison camp. Yet the…


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