Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front. By David J. Bettez. (2016. Pp. 428. $45.00. Hardback. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington KY 40508-4008. www.kentuckypress.com) ISBN: 978-0-8131-6801-2.
Hot off the presses from the University of Kentucky Press comes a wonderful new resource about the First World War and its impact on Kentuckians. We can never emphasize enough the importance of placing your ancestors’ lives into context. Even though most of us have run across a WWI draft card for several of our male ancestors, I don’t think we understand the full impact that this war had on the lives of those who went to fight, and those who stayed home. Our family trees tend to become overshadowed by the importance of WWII and the Civil War, yet this war ushered in social change and movements that echo in our lives today.
Bettez covers most of the larger issues that affected Kentuckians: chronological events, the Kentucky Council of Defense, dissenting voices, implementation of the draft, provisions infrastructure, African Americans, women and children, religion, economic impact, and aftermath. There is also the added benefit of county impact. The author covers events and influences of many Kentucky counties on an individual basis. This can help with understanding how the war impacted your ancestors directly, from a local viewpoint. There is also a wonderful segment about the aftermath of the war, including the numerous memorials that were created locally. This title includes a nice index, and loads of end-notes for further research. Bettez reminds readers that many great leaders of the war effort were from Kentucky, reminding us that Kentuckians had a big part in the war’s successful outcome.