KSDAR Suggested Reading List
April 1, 2015 – March 15, 2016

Reading Contest Rules


Berry, Wendell. Hanna Coulter.
In this fiction book by award-winning Kentucky author Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter narrates her own story of love, loss, hope, and affirmation. Hannah beautifully recounts her life as a country girl. To escape a controlling stepmother, she flees to another town where she finds work and her first husband, Virgil. Not long after her marriage, Virgil dies in the Battle of the Bulge, leaving her with a baby daughter. Three years after Virgil’s death, Hannah marries Nathan Coulter, who had fought in the Battle of Okinawa. Together they have two children. Hannah describes their love as quiet, enduring, and “. . . it grows out of the ground. It has a body and a place.” As their country life is threatened by development, Hannah’s grandson returns to manage her beloved land. This thoughtful and insightful story, filled with hope, is a must read for all Daughters.

Eckert, Allan W. That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley.
Known for his large body of work and nominated seven times for the Pulitzer Prize in literature, author Allan Eckert narrates the struggles of the white man in the westward movement along the Ohio River Valley and the conflicts with Indians that arose. This book is filled with interesting stories of massacres led by whites and ensuing battles led by Indians. It relates the development of the Ohio River border patrol, escapades of the Wetzel brothers against the Indians, more brutal massacres on both sides, and the eventual burning at the stake of Colonel William Crawford during the Battle of Sandusky. This riveting account of the Indian Wars along the Ohio River chronicles the settling of Kentucky near the Ohio River and is a must read for Daughters whose ancestors were a part of that history.

Giles, Janice Holt. The Kentuckians.
This is the first book in a series of three historical fiction books by Kentucky author Janice Holt Giles. In this historically accurate book, the author vividly relates the story of rugged pioneers who made their way through the Cumberland Gap in the 1770s to settle in the beautiful but dangerous frontier. One of these pioneers was David Cooper, who had earlier explored with Daniel Boone in the wilderness that later became Kentucky. David cleared the wooded land, built a cabin, and planted crops only to learn that the girl he loved was already married. In this well-researched novel, the author effectively presents the struggles and hardships of early pioneers.

Kingslover, Barbara. Flight Behavior
Cleverly and skillfully crafted, Flight Behavior explores the behavior of people living in rural America as well as the behavior of monarch butterflies displaced from their normal winter habitat in central Mexico to a rural area in Tennessee. Unhappy with her poor, lackluster life in a disappointing marriage to a dull but steady man and under the control of a dominating mother-in-law, Dellarobia Turnbow takes flight from her circumstances and unexpectedly discovers a forest filled with what appears to be a fire. And it changes her life forever. Caused by climate change, the woods behind her home are covered with millions of monarch butterflies resting in layers on trees. This phenomenon brings researchers, a well-educated handsome biologist, other scientists, reporters, tourists, and townspeople to view the aberration. Because of her willingness to be helpful, Dellarobia is hired as a worker on the research team to study the butterflies, and she becomes aware of a totally different way of life. In this powerful book, Kentucky author Kingsolver vividly portrays a desperate, young, married mother who turns her life around as the result of encountering a magnificent scientific phenomenon. It is pure Kingsolver brilliance of the written word and is highly recommended.

Landrum, Graham. The Famous DAR Murder Mystery.
This delightful novel is filled with colorful characters from the local DAR chapter. When the ladies go to the cemetery looking for a Revolutionary War soldier’s grave, they discover a dead body. Rebuffed by the sheriff, the ladies conduct their own investigation about the corpse they found. This is a fun read for all Daughters!


Apple, Lindsey. The Family Legacy of Henry Clay: In the Shadow of a Kentucky Patriarch.
Known as the Great Compromiser because of his strong leadership in the United States Senate, Henry Clay left an enduring legacy for generations of his family. Author Lindsey Apple, retired History Department chairman at Georgetown College, explores how Henry Clay’s values greatly influenced his family. In this well-researched book, the author reveals Clay’s traits of family loyalty, social consciousness, service to others, and the ability to deal with tragedy. This book is a true story of an American family who survives and thrives through many generations. It should be read by all Kentuckians.

Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.
This inspirational book is organized into several parts. The introduction provides valuable background information about World War II. Then, each part is about a country involved in the European campaign: Germany, Poland, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, and the United States of America. Included in each part are stories about the featured women from that country and their bravery as well as an overview of that country’s involvement during World War II. Also included are a glossary and detailed notes about the women.

Carmean, Kelli. Spider Woman Walks This Land.
Anthropologist, archaeologist, and professor, Kelli Carmean effectively presents traditional cultural properties as well as an introduction of the Navaho, their culture, and their issues. She provides two views. One is the western perspective that provides management. The other is the cultural Navaho perspective and the tension that exists between the two. Throughout the book, this Kentucky author utilizes personal journal entries that show the relationship between continuity and change. This is an excellent resource for better understanding the Navaho.

Carroll, Andrew. War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.
Author Andrew Carroll selected almost 200 letters out of more than 50,000 letters he received from Americans who served our country during war. Beginning with the Civil War and continuing through the Bosian Conflict, these letters are first-hand accounts of the personal side of war, horrors of war, and difficulties caused by separation from family, to name a few. Almost all of the letters were written by ordinary soldiers, sailors, nurses, airmen, marines, and civilians working in the war. Letters from famous leaders, such as General William T. Sherman, Clara Barton, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, General Douglas MacArthur, Julia Child, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., are also included. These honest, touching, and insightful letters reveal war from a different and powerful perspective than the glamorous view that is often presented. Not only does this book provide an accurate record of life during war, but it acknowledges the incredible importance of letters. This book is one you will long remember.

Caudill, Harry M. Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area.
Although it was written 50 plus years ago, this classic history of the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky provides an understanding of the culture and valuable insight into the people, problems, and resources of the area. Many of the same conditions continue to exist, making the book well worth reading today.

Cummins, Terry. The Caudills of the Cumberlands: Anne’s Story of Life with Harry.
Delightfully written, this book relates how Anne met and married Harry and became his partner in all aspects of his life – first in the home raising a family and then working as his assistant in his law office and on his many projects. Both Harry and Anne were master storytellers, and they often entertained visitors and audiences with fascinating stories about the Appalachian Mountains and its people. This heartwarming account of their lives together, their enduring love, and their incredible partnership is a definite must read for all Kentucky Daughters.

Cunningham, Bill. On Bended Knees: The True Story of the Night Rider Tobacco War in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Justice William Cunningham of the Kentucky Supreme Court writes a fascinating and accurate account of the “Black Patch Wars” that took place in the early 1900s. This little-known history of southwestern Kentucky and its neighbor Tennessee tells the story of the violent conflict between tobacco farmers and the American Tobacco Company, owned by James Buchanan Duke, who donated millions of dollars to Duke University. Led by Dr. David Amoss, a physician and farmer in Caldwell County, Kentucky, tobacco farmers formed a vigilante group known as the Night Riders. This group used violent means against the powerful Duke-owned tobacco company that reduced and controlled tobacco prices. After attacking the company, farmers used violence against those who sold their tobacco to the “Duke Trust.” This well-written account of a terrible period in Kentucky’s history, when friends and neighbors were divided, provides a balanced perspective of both sides.

Edgerton, John. Generations: An American Family.
John Egerton, who graduated from high school in Cadiz, Kentucky, and from the University of Kentucky, masterfully writes the story of the Burnam and Addie Ledford family of Lancaster, Kentucky. Married in 1903, in Harlan County, Kentucky, this couple, who lived to be 106 and 102 respectively, is a reflection of many Kentucky families who raised their families and saw history in the making. Relive the past through the oral history told by these two Centenarians and make connections with an ordinary American family who lived through extraordinary times.

Edsel, Robert M., and Brett Witter. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.
Under the direction of Adolph Hitler, Nazis confiscated thousands of works of art and artifacts, which were stored and cataloged. Also, they destroyed countless cultural treasures not meeting Hitler’s approval. To prevent the total destruction of great art, more than 350 men and women curators, archivists, artists, and art historians from 13 countries were given the task of locating and preserving works of art. At first, they were to save and preserve buildings and then their mission expanded to finding missing art. Eventually, this large group of monuments men was reduced to a small number, who had an enormous task. This book is a fascinating account of their heroic efforts to locate and save priceless art treasures.

Flood, Charles Bracelen. Rise and Fight Again: Perilous Times Along the Road to Independence.
This well-researched book, using quotes from letters and diaries, presents the American Revolutionary War from the view of the common man. It graphically relates hardships and low spirits of defeat as experienced first-hand by human beings. Superbly written, the author shows how soldiers could Rise and Fight Again after crushing defeat and hardship to eventually win the war.

At this point, I would like to digress from writing the annotation to pay tribute to this award-winning Richmond, Kentucky, author, who recently died. Early in his career, he worked for the Associated Press. At one point, he was embedded with American troops in Vietnam as a reporter for one year. Not only was he an excellent writer and nationally known author, he was very personable and one of the most positive people I have ever known. I consider it a privilege to have served with him on a library board. He was truly a scholarly gentleman who loved his work and his family.

Middlekauff, Robert. Washington’s Revolution.
Although this book is biographical in nature, it is not a complete accounting of Washington’s life. It reveals Washington’s experiences in the American Revolution, how his early life prepared him to lead in battle, how his experiences as a landowner contributed to the making of “the indispensable man” in the fight for independence, and how the war developed his character. Death of his father when he was only 11 years old changed his social status, but he learned the social skills of a gentleman. He became a surveyor, acquired Mount Vernon, was a major in the Virginia militia, and fought in the French and Indian War. Fighting with the British during the French and Indian War, he proved his courage but was overlooked for a promotion. All these experiences prepared him for the Revolutionary War. During the War of American Independence, he lost more battles than he won, but his resolve remained strong until he defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. He was beloved, respected, and feared by his soldiers. When the war ended, he resigned his commission to return home because of his belief that civil authority should rule over military power. In so doing, he laid the foundation for the new republic. This is a definite must read.

Morgan, Robert. Boone: A Biography.
In this well-researched and well-written book, the author does an excellent job of separating the myth from the man and in the process tells the story of early America. It tells the migration from Great Britain to the New World for religious freedom, the westward movement, wars – The American Revolution, War of 1812, and Indian conflicts – as well as competition between countries for land. The book reveals contradictions in Boone’s life; yet, he was considered a legend and had considerable influence on the settling and development of Kentucky and the westward movement. All Kentuckians will enjoy reading Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan.

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The Wide Blue Sash.
Prepared by the Historian General’s office staff under the supervision of Ann Arnold Hunter, Historian General, during the administration of President General Merry Ann Thompson Wright, this is a history with photographs and a four-page “biography and tribute” to each President General and the founders from the beginning of DAR in 1890 until it’s publication in 2013. It provides a brief “glimpse of the background, the character, the leadership and the accomplishments of those who have worn the wide blue sash.” It is definitely a must read for all Daughters.

Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky Place Names.
Beefhide. Golden Pond. Jabez. Kuttawa. Monkeys Eyebrow. Nonesuch. These are some of the 2,000 place names of communities and post offices in Kentucky. They provide a unique and interesting glimpse into the commonwealth’s history. Reading Kentucky Place Names is a delight!

Wall, Maryjean. How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Traders, Gamblers, and Breeders.
Long-time turf writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader and historian, Mary Jean Wall examines the history and growth of the thoroughbred industry in the Bluegrass following the Civil War. Basing her research on primary documents, the author relates how the Bluegrass transformed from a lawless region to a prosperous Southern culture regaining prominence in the horse industry. This insightful story filled with unique characters is a must read for all Kentuckians.