Civil War Book Review: Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee

Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee
Edited by Kent Dollar, Larry Whiteaker and W. Calvin Dickson

Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; Reprint edition (January 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813133823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813133829

For many states, the decision on secession was not an easy one.  With strong ties in both directions, the people held split loyalties creating questions with no easy answers.  Even after making the decision or having it made for them, problems defying solutions existed.  Kentucky and Tennessee went through a particularly difficult time during the Civil War.  One seceded and fought with the Confederacy and the other waited to secede after the war ended.

Collections of essays can be difficult reading unless the editors are careful.  Including to wide a range of opinions or trying to cover to much may weaken the book.  The editors have avoided these traps producing a cohesive work that captures the diverse experiences of these two states.  Organized into sections on secession, the experience of war and war’s aftermath we gain a fuller understanding of events.  Each section contains five or six essays on an issue or an individual.  The editors Introduction and Afterword set the stage and sum up our reading.

Marion B. Lucas provides a look at Kentucky’s Black population in “Freedom is Better than Slavery”.  Which ties into “After the Horror”, B. Franklin Cooling’s look at Kentucky after the war.  This is just one example of how different essays reinforce each other.  More is made of the day-to-day war than the movements of armies or the big battles.  The book’s emphasis is on bushwhackers, burnt homes and occupation not on Shiloh or Perryville.  This excellent idea makes for a personal and very readable book that increases our understanding of everyday life during an extraordinary event.

Each essay has notes.  Most have illustrations.  There is a full index and information on the contributors.  The paperback has 392 pages and 368 of these pages are text.


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