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


by Kent T. Dollar, Larry H. Whiteaker, and W. Calvin Dickinson, editors

Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 2009. Pp. ix, 391. Illus., map, notes, index. $40.00. ISBN: 978-0-8131-2541-1

Sister States, Enemy States takes a comparative look at the war in Tennessee and Kentucky with an emphasis on the differences between the two states, and the ways in which these led to a largely Unionist Kentucky and a mostly Secessionist Tennessee. 

The 16 essays are grouped in three broad categories.  The first takes a look at the dynamics of secessionism in the two states, which reflected political, social, economic, and cultural, differences between them, as well the quality of leadership.  The second examines the ways in which irregular warfare in each state reflected these differences, and covers some particularly violent incidents and people, as well as the plight of African Americans during the war.  The third and last section deals with the ways in which the war affected each state. 

All of the essays are interesting and useful, and some are outstanding, notably Derek W. Frisby;s discussion of West Tennessee during the secession crisis, which cogently argues that the state's secession was the result of a massive campaign of intimidation, violence, and outright fraud orchestraed by a secessionist governor, which kept the Unionist vote down. 

A very good book on the life of the two states during the Civil War, and particularly on the dynamics of secession.
Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close