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How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders
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How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  5 reviews
The conflicts of the Civil War continued long after the conclusion of the war: jockeys and Thoroughbreds took up the fight on the racetrack. A border state with a shifting identity, Kentucky was scorned for its violence and lawlessness and struggled to keep up with competition from horse breeders and businessmen from New York and New Jersey. As part of this struggle, from ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 29th 2010 by University Press of Kentucky (first published January 1st 2010)
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Alan Cornett
Wall provides an informative history of the rise of the Bluegrass horse industry and its simultaneous war with and dependence on the money of the Northeast. I learned much of value, and it is for this substantive contribution I rate it four stars.

The thesis of "How Kentucky Became Southern", however, really is an intrusion into the book. Points that are worth a possible aside are heavy handedly emphasized. At times unsupported declarations are made. Wall relies on a false dichotomy of "West" vs.
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Ernie
I read this earlier then was invited to participate in a public discussion of the book. I found my previous review almost worthless. I read the book a 2nd time, hence a 2nd review. The main point on re-reading is that the title is trivial. The book is not about the trivial topic of the title, but rather about the Bluegrass region of Kentucky between the end of the Civil War and the early 1900s. The book begins with a wonderful description of a horse race that was much anticipated between a Kentu ...more
Gwen Mayo
Maryjean Wall takes us behind the scenes of the horse racing industry and does an excellent job of introducing non-horse people to the racing world of the nineteenth century. I was particularly impressed by her knowledge of the decline of the industry after the Civil War and the long, often bumpy road Kentuckians traveled to make their state the horse racing capitol of the world. How Kentucky Became Southern is a good read.

The only two points the book came up short for me is soft treatment Wall
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Ernie
Five stars awarded because it was well researched, well written, but especially because of local interest. The book explained many of the inconsistencies in local history that have puzzled me over the last 30 years. Mary Jean Wall describes how Kentucky's image transformed from that of a lawless, violent western frontier state to that of an idyllic, peaceful, Southern society. This transition,she asserts, was key in convincing Northern industrialists to move their forays in the the Thorouhgbred ...more
Dana
I really thought this would be more about the actual history of the state. Instead, it was more a history of the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky. It was a little dry, and parts were repetitive. I enjoyed learning new things, but I would have liked it more as a small part of a larger book about the industry.
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Maryjean Wall served as the turf writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader for thirty-five years. The author of How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders, she holds a doctorate and is an instructor in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky.
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