Title Reviewed:
A History of Kentucky

Author Reviewed:
Thomas D. Clark

William O. Lynch


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 487-488

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

A History of Kentucky. By Thomas D. Clark, Ph.D. Prentice-Hall, Inc., New York, 1937. Pp. xvi, 702, illustrab ed, maps, $5.00.

Kentucky has had a long history. It has been a history marked by the development of a high civilization, by bitter conflicts and by stirring events. Reaching from the Cumber-lands to the Mississippi, the state is made up of sections with diverse interests. The commonwealth has always been both western and southern, while, at the same time bound to the North by strong ties. Much has been written on Kentucky, but the time was ripe for a single-volume history of the state that would bring the story down to the present, and furnish a balanced account of the middle and earlier periods. The new volume is, therefore, timely.

The first chapter is devoted to geography and the economic factor is stressed throughout the volume. The state's history to 1865 is given over four hundred fifty pages, leaving about one hundred twenty-five to the period since the Civil War. In both the ante-bellum and the later periods, the author deals not only with political and economic developments but also with education and culture. One of the chapters on the middle period is devoted to slavery in Kentucky.

There are no footnotes but there is an extensive bibliography for each chapter. These classified lists of original and secondary matter occupy forty pages near the end of the volume. There is a comprehensive index and three maps—a political map of the state, an topographical map, and a Civil War map. There are fourteen well-chosen illustrations that add to the attractiveness of the volume.

It has not been an easy matter, even for a man reared and educated outside of Kentucky, to write the history of a state so often torn by conflicts. Doctor Clark has attempted to write "a straightforward narrative setting forth the salient points of Kentucky's social, economic and political growth," and has measured up to the standard set for himself. From beginning to end the story is interesting and varied. It is informing and readable. It will furnish the general reader with a generous knowledge of Kentucky's history. The special student will find in the volume the basis for a more extended study, which the bibliography will greatly aid him in making.


Published by the Indiana University Department of History.