- Book Notes
This brief volume contains a remarkable analysis of the famous battle in 1782 which was so disastrous for the Kentucky militia but important in shaping the identity of Kentuckians. Trying to interpret even the military actions surrounding the battle, Hammon confronts many of the problems of unreliable, self-aggrandizing, and culturally biased sources which perennially frustrate historians. His refreshing, open discussion of these difficulties is accompanied by a fascinating appendix of thirty-five primary-source documents gathered from disparate collections. This inclusion will make the volume valuable for scholars of the frontier, of memory, and of race in the early republic.
Carson's classic study of bourbon in American culture was originally published in 1963, at a time when the bourbon market was beginning to flourish after a string of difficult decades that had included prohibition, depression, and war. Bourbon seems to be at a similar moment now, with craft distilleries and bourbon heritage tourism driving up demand for the product and interest in its relationship with the state. For that reason, then, this is an exceptionally well-timed reprint which will not only satisfy the imbibing public but perhaps might now inspire new scholarship as well. [End Page 168]
Another volume in Professor Montell's prolific series shows that Kentuckians have not yet told all of their ghost stories. Responding to calls for more tales from enthusiastic readers, Montell has compiled yet another collection that documents the strong oral and folk traditions within the state.
While the old saying about books and covers may lead many to overlook this oversized, full-color volume as fit only for the coffee table, it contains some profound statements about the need to preserve more of the plant and animal life of Kentucky than that which runs around the racetrack. That is, unsurprisingly, the theme of Berry's powerful foreword which relates the natural diversity of the state to its history and peoples, and it is strikingly reinforced by the amazing photography throughout.
Primarily a collection of gambling stories compiled from a host of contemporary publications, this volume also benefits from an insightful introduction by Smith. In it, he places the river gambler—both historical and literary—in the context of the nineteenth-century South and explores why the character was such a popular one. Those interested in American literature, regional identity, and even those interested in seeing the historical antecedents of the current popularity of poker will be interested in the tales compiled here. [End Page 169]
Halleran has drawn from a wide array of personal diaries, letters, and stories to compile this history of wartime Masonry. While not arguing that the fraternity influenced or changed the outcome of the war, he makes a much more solid case that Masonic activity was ever-present in the ranks of both warring armies. His is the first monograph to give the subject scholarly treatment, and it is a welcome resource.
From the 1908 vaudeville origins of the song to its establishment as an American sporting institution in the...