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Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front

by David J. Bettez

Availablecloth$45.00s 978-0-8131-6801-2
Availableweb pdf$45.00s 978-0-8131-6802-9
Availableepub$45.00s 978-0-8131-6803-6
Topics in Kentucky History
440 pages  Pubdate: 10/07/2016  6.125 x 9.25  44 b&w photos, 1 map

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From five thousand children marching in a parade, singing, “Johnnie get your hoe. . . . Mary dig your row,” to communities banding together to observe Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Kentuckians were loyal supporters of their country during the First World War. Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the nation, and the state increased its coal production by 50 percent during the war years. Overwhelmingly, the people of the Commonwealth set aside partisan interests and worked together to help the nation achieve victory in Europe.

David J. Bettez provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great War on Bluegrass society, politics, economy, and culture, contextualizing the state’s involvement within the national experience. His exhaustively researched study examines the Kentucky Council of Defense—which sponsored local war-effort activities—military mobilization and preparation, opposition and dissent, and the role of religion and higher education in shaping the state’s response to the war. It also describes the efforts of Kentuckians who served abroad in military and civilian capacities, and postwar memorialization of their contributions.

Kentucky and the Great War
explores the impact of the conflict on women’s suffrage, child labor, and African American life. In particular, Bettez investigates how black citizens were urged to support a war to make the world “safe for democracy” even as their civil rights and freedoms were violated in the Jim Crow South. This engaging and timely social history offers new perspectives on an overlooked aspect of World War I.

David J. Bettez is the author of Kentucky Marine: Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC, which won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for Biography.

This book is a thorough study of World War I and its impact on Kentucky and Kentuckians. The book will have a great appeal to historians and those interested in the history of our wars. -- William E. Ellis, professor emeritus at Eastern Kentucky University and author of A History of Education in Kentucky

Path breaking, detailed, and thoroughly researched, this first book on Kentucky in World War I will stand as the definitive study. -- James A. Ramage, author of Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

David Bettez has crafted an excellent account of how World War I impacted Kentucky socially, economically, and politically. -- Journal of America's Military Past

Bettez has taken the formidable task of researching and writing about how the men, women and children of the commonwealth participated in one of the greatest conflicts in history. Not only did he meet the challenges of condensing Kentucky’s contributions to the allied victory in World War I into fewer than 500 pages, he produced a superior work of history on Kentucky during the period leading up to, and throughout, America’s involvement in one of the most important wars of our time.

Rarely does a book come along that can be honestly hailed as a definitive work. Kentucky and the Great War is without a doubt such a work. -- Kentucky Gazette

An excellent state history of the war years, Bettez’s work will prove insightful for historians examining the late Progressive Era in Kentucky and beyond. -- Ohio Valley History

David J. Bettez was named the recipient of the 2016 Thomas D. Clark Medallion.