Long before the official establishment of the Commonwealth, intrepid pioneers ventured west of the Allegheny Mountains into an expansive, alluring wilderness that they began to call Kentucky. After blazing trails, clearing plots, and surviving innumerable challenges, a few adventurers found time to pen celebratory tributes to their new homeland. In the two centuries that followed, many of the world's finest writers, both native Kentuckians and visitors, have paid homage to the Bluegrass State with the written word.
In The Kentucky Anthology, acclaimed author and literary historian Wade Hall has assembled an unprecedented and comprehensive compilation of writings pertaining to Kentucky and its land, people, and culture. Hall's introductions to each author frame both popular and lesser-known selections in a historical context. He examines the major cultural and political developments in the history of the Commonwealth, finding both parallels and marked distinctions between Kentucky and the rest of the United States.
While honoring the heritage of Kentucky in all its glory, Hall does not blithely turn away from the state's most troubling episodes and institutions such as racism, slavery, and war. Hall also builds the argument, bolstered by the strength and significance of the collected writings, that Kentucky's best writers compare favorably with the finest in the world. Many of the authors presented here remain universally renowned and beloved, while others have faded into the tides of time, waiting for rediscovery. Together, they guide the reader on a literary tour of Kentucky, from the mines to the rivers and from the deepest hollows to the highest peaks.
The Kentucky Anthology traces the interests and aspirations, the achievements and failures and the comedies and tragedies that have filled the lives of generations of Kentuckians. These diaries, letters, speeches, essays, poems, and stories bring history brilliantly to life. Jesse Stuart once wrote, "If these United States can be called a body, Kentucky can be called its heart." The Kentucky Anthology captures the rhythm and spirit of that heart in the words of its most remarkable chroniclers.
"A bargain; no other compilation produced in or about this state offers as much of the history of Kentucky as seen through its writers and perhaps more importantly, suggests where it is going." -- Appalachian News-Express
"A compendium that pays attention to every type of writer without making this book feel stuffy or polemical.... Among the warmest books I've read, leaving me with the sense that I'm being guided by a clear-minded, erudite, and non-partisan docent whose only agenda is to get me to nod along with him that yes, Kentucky does have some fine writers." -- Arkansas Review
"Appears just in time for the holidays, appropriately enough, because the book reads like a wonderful present to the commonwealth." -- Bowling Green Daily News
"With this rich and varied anthology of Kentucky's best, The Kentucky Anthology is a selection of works that will navigate its readers through the rich weaving of the many threads that comprise Kentucky's wonderful tapestry." -- Chevy Chaser
"This volume should stand as the authoritative sampler of Kentucky writing.... Well organized, accessible, and handsomely presented, this is a good choice for those interested in regional US literature." -- Choice
"A welcome addition to any Kentucky collection.... Will delight and educate and whet one's appetite for more." -- Kentucky Kaleidoscope
"Gathers an incredible array of writings from and about our state's land, people, and culture." -- Kentucky Living
"Should be lauded as a tremendous addition to Kentucky letters, and Hall should be praised for his panoramic presentation of Kentucky writing and his painstaking scholarship." -- Lexington Herald-Leader
"Truly a patchwork quilt of experience and fiction that shows us how integral Kentucky is to the geography of the American imagination." -- Library Journal
"Wade Hall has done an enormous service that will be prized for decades to come." -- Louisville Courier-Journal
"An excellent gift for anyone who loves our state or good writing, and should be in the collection of every high school and college student within our borders." -- Louisville Voice-Tribune
"It is a remarkable opportunity to get inside the minds of those who helped shaped the history of the state in diverse ways.... This impressive collection offers a wealth of treasures." -- Modern Mountain Magazine
"No fewer than 179 writers are included, an honor roll not only of Kentucky's most accomplished writers, recognized nationally and even internationally, but dozens of those lesser known whose more modest contributions add dimension and contour to the journey.... In covering so much territory, Hall encapsulates a miniature portrait of the culture of Kentucky." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society