Brian Thomas Gallagher

  • How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders

    Few things revel so freely in the pageantry and nostalgia of southern identity as the scene surrounding Churchill Downs on Derby Day. In fact, bluegrass horse country in general—with its white fences, white suits, and white spectators—is the very vision of a moneyed southern idyll: juleps, gentility, charming women, and, most important, fast thoroughbreds.

    To those who know, the raising of champion blood horses in this part of the country is not simply the product of custom. According to Maryjean Wall, in her vivid book How Kentucky Became Southern, the very soil lends itself to the cause.


    When Gerald Ford’s secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, opined that “Spengler was an optimist,” the world finally had the obiter dictum to sum up the trenchant doomism at the heart of the cold-warrior mentality—and the coldest of the cold warriors were at the rand Corporation, where Schlesinger had worked before ascending to the secretariat. In fact, his quip would serve well as rand’s motto.

    Although rand has arguably been the most influential nongovernmental policy organization in American history, until Alex Abella’s Soldiers of Reason there was no comprehensive history of its inner


    (There is a tendency to represent sports, especially football, in bellicose terms. From the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, perched high upon their steeds in the iconic photograph, to the storied Steel Curtain defensive line of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, with its cold-war-ish nickname, the chatter around football revels in combat vocabulary.

    In War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football’s NFC East, Mark Maske, the Washington Post football guru, continues in this vein: “Violence sells,” he writes. “Football’s natural breaks in play make it the perfect sport for TV, true,