If nature abhors a vacuum, so too do publishers and authors. Although one of us (James C. Klotter) had coauthored the standard full history of the state and edited a high school state history textbook, and we had recently coauthored an elementary school text, none fully met the need for a concise, readable, and affordable introductory history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its people. To remedy that situation, this book emerged. In essence, it is a revision of a 2006 work entitled Faces of Kentucky. In this leaner (though not meaner) version, some features have been omitted, and some material has been added or updated to bring the freshest scholarship to the subject. Most of all, this book provides a good, solid, readable introduction to the state—past, present, and future. Here, readers can find out about the Native American frontier, early leaders such as Daniel Boone, the divisive Civil War era, the bloody feud period, the important twentieth century, and much more. Within these pages, sidebars feature the stories of the people who made the history, and materials from the time are highlighted so readers themselves can examine these sources and be historians, operating as detectives. These chapters also detail the state’s government, geography, education, and economy, as well as its rich literary and cultural traditions.
This work tells the story of all Kentuckians, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, past and present, in a way that has meaning for today’s readers. So, for those new to the state or just new to its history, this book was written for you. It is our hope that it entertains and educates and that reading this book will make you want to explore Kentucky’s rich past even more. It is a journey worth taking.