Are You up for a Movie Night (and Some Movie History)?

Written by Daria Goncharova, Kentucky Press Marketing Intern

“Rosebud …”

Sound familiar? If not, you must have not seen Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941). The first word of the film, “rosebud” is also the last word spoken by the film’s main character, Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy yet mysterious newspaper magnate. With the film opening with the protagonist’s death, the word “rosebud” becomes the driving force of the plot as a news reporter sets off to uncover the meaning behind Kane’s final word. As he interviews his friends, enemies, and ex-wife, Kane’s life story is told through flashbacks that make the viewer wonder: Who was Charles Foster Kane? America’s national treasure? The friend of the poor? Or “the menace to every working man?” Was he driven by love, money, or desire for power? And why was “rosebud” his final word? The film’s final scene reveals “rosebud” to the viewer, but Welles constructed his film in such a way that critics and viewers still debate the answers to these questions.

“Citizen Kane,” Orson Welles, 1941, running for governor | Link to original

Directed by Welles at the age of twenty-five, Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films ever made thanks to its cinematography, narrative structure, and Welles’s unforgettable portrayal of Kane. A recent Oscar nominee, Mank (2020), which focuses on the development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane, is living proof of this statement! If you have never seen Citizen Kane, you can catch it on a big screen Sept. 19 & 22at the Regal Hamburg Pavillion. While you are waiting for  movie night, we at the University Press of Kentucky put together a list of titles that will help you learn more about Orson Welles and Hollywood’s inner workings of that time.

1. Joseph McBride’s What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?

While Citizen Kane is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, there is little doubt that it likely the best movie made by director Orson Welles. Sadly, many of those who love and admire Citizen Kane know little about Welles’s later career or assume that it peaked early and declined quickly. 

A photo of Orson Welles with the camera, 1973 | Link to original

Author Joseph McBride rectifies this common oversight by reexamining Welles’s entire life and filmography. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?  puts Welles’s later career in context.  McBride retraces Welles’s career from his early successes in Hollywood, to the backlash he received for modeling Kane after the powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst; from the filmmaker’s political blacklisting and self-exile in Europe, to his return to America and America’s cinema in 1970-1985. The first comprehensive study of Welles’s entire career rather than just the highlights, McBride’s book offers fresh insights into “why one of our greatest filmmakers gradually turned into an almost private artist” (xviii).

A good friend of Welles during the final period of his life, McBride combines his personal knowledge of the filmmaker with his expertise in the film industry to show that, despite Welles’s break with Hollywood, he never stopped revolutionizing cinema. This updated edition concludes with a chapter on two of Welles’s underappreciated films: Too Much Johnson (1938)—which was only recently rediscovered—and The Other Side of the Wind, which was finally completed in 2018.

Combining beautiful prose with complex insights, McBride’s What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? will not only give you a deeper understanding of Welles and his filmography, but will make you reexamine your assumptions about the film industry.

2. Foster Hirsch’s Otto Preminger

If you want to learn about another influential filmmaker with a “larger than life” personality, Otto Preminger is an obvious choice. A Jewish immigrant from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Preminger directed more than thirty-five feature films across a variety of genres. From noir (Laura, Fallen Angel) to romantic comedies (Such Good Friends, The Moon Is Blue), to musicals (Carmen Jones), to courtroom dramas (Anatomy of a Murder),to epics (Exodus, In Harm’s Way) Preminger did it all. Yet, his cinematic legacy was somewhat tarred by his temper. Nicknamed “Otto the Terrible,” Preminger would often lash out at his actors both to punish them and to get the best take.

Otto Preminger on a movie set | Link to original

In this revised edition of Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King, Foster Hirsch achieves the seemingly impossible: he does justice to Preminger’s directorial genius without shying away from more complex and uncomfortable parts of the filmmaker’s biography:

“Otto was a tyrant and a bully who could be cruel. He was also a loving son, brother, husband, and father, a loyal friend and colleague, and offstage, away from the pressures of work, a man with enormous charm and cultivation. At times his anger was strategic, a performance of sorts, but more often he couldn’t help himself and didn’t see why he should. The fact of the matter is this: Otto Preminger was a major filmmaker who was a flawed human being.”

Excerpt from Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King (xviii-xix).

Hirsch traces Preminger’s life story from his privileged upbringing in Vienna to his work in theater and cinema in Europe and finally, to his immigration to the United States. Offering insight into both in Preminger’s life and filmography, Hirsh paints a portrait of a man who was both/and “rather than ‘either/or’” (xix). Preminger was a loving family man and a tyrant on set. He was a businessman who knew how to make profitable films and an innovator who wasn’t afraid to push against the system and the Motion Picture Production Code.

In this full-scale biography of the controversial yet renowned filmmaker, Hirsch reveals a man behind the camera while simultaneously affirming the ongoing relevance of Preminger’s work.

3. Bernard F. Dick’s Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood

“The stories behind some of the greatest films ever made pale beside the story of the studio that made them.”

Hollywood Inside Syndicate

While McBride’s and Hirsch’s books focus on the relationship between a filmmaker and the film industry at large, Bernard F. Dick’s Engulfed explores the inner workings of Hollywood through a study of a single studio—Paramount. The studio behind such critically acclaimed films as Double Indemnity (1944), The Godfather (1972), and Titanic (1997), Paramount was one of the Big Five studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Gulf + Western’s 1966 takeover of the studio signaled the end of its independent life and marked the beginning of a new way of doing business in Hollywood.

A photo of Paramount Pictures, date unknown | Link to original

Engulfed reconstructs the battle that culminated in the reduction of the studio to a corporate commodity. A close study of this reorganization rather than an extensive history of Paramount Pictures, Engulfed dedicates the first chapter to a brief overview of the studio at its prime before moving on to analyzing the end of Paramount as an autonomous entity. Dick traces Paramount’s journey from free-standing studio to a subsidiary of first Gulf + Western Industries Corporation, then Paramount Communications, and finally Viacom-CBS. Dick presents Paramount’s structural shifts as a reflection of Hollywood’s larger trend towards corporatization. When autonomous studios become replaced by giant corporations controlling not only studio properties, but also television stations, cable networks, book publishers, and more, former merchandising executives find themselves in charge of movie production. Dick explains that when studios are run by CEOs, films become measured against their box office profit rather than any cinematic or creative potential: “The ‘C’ in CEO stands for ‘chief,’ not ‘creative’” (239). As a result, contemporary Hollywood is dominated by films that take fewer artistic risks and follow a formula that will sell.  

Insightful and engaging, Engulfed is a rigorous study of the larger shifts within the movie industry that also provides insight into the movers and shakers behind Paramount including Adolph Zukor, Sumner Redstone, Sherry Lansing, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mel Karmazin, and many more.

4. Bernard F. Dick’s City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures

“As a moviegoer, I discovered at an early age that films were the products of studios. As a film historian, I now know that they are part of a much bigger picture.”

Excerpt from City of Dreams (xiii)

How do you pick a movie to watch? Do you base your choice on your favorite actor or actress, director, rating, or movie genre? Chances are that whatever guides your choice, you rarely consider a studio behind the film. City of Dreams might change your mind by submerging you into the fascinating history of Universal Pictures.

A photo of Universal Pictures | Link to original

One of the Little Three, Universal was not as large as RKO Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM, Paramount Pictures, or 20th Century Fox, which comprised the Big Five. Yet, it was no less influential. Dick traces the history of Universal Pictures from its early origins to the modern day, while analyzing the studio’s diverse body of work: from the silent films that made it famous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, Blind Husbands, Foolish Wives), to its horror cycle (Dracula, Frankenstein), to popular comedies starring Abbott and Costello (One Night in the Tropics, Hold That Ghost, Keep ’Em Flying). While covering films from different eras, Dick places a particular emphasis on Universal’s films of the 1930s, the first decade of the sound era, that “shaped the public’s perception of a studio and its product” (xii).

This revised edition continues with the further buying and selling of Universal in 2000 and ends with the reflection of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected movie production and distribution, leading Universal to digitize films intended for theatrical release.

5. Bernard F. Dick’s Columbia Pictures: A Portrait of a Studio          

Once you become aware of the role that studio executives play behind the scenes, it is hard to go back to seeing a film as a completely independent product shaped by the director alone. So don’t! Instead pick up Columbia Pictures: A Portrait of a Studio edited by Bernard F. Dick that covers both the history and the art of this influential studio.

A photo of Sony Pictures Entertainment (formerly Columbia Pictures) | Link to original

Instead of following one of the common formats of a history book—“foundation-to-extinction (or transformation) type, the studio head biography, and the coffee table book” (x), this collection combines the best of all three. The book opens with Dick’s extensive history of Columbia Pictures that is then followed by fourteen previously unpublished essays by film scholars representing a variety of fields and approaches. Do you want to learn more about Columbia’s biggest stars? Then check out William Vincent’s essay on Rita Hayworth and Ruth Prigozy’s account of Judy Holliday. Or are you interested in what kind of films Columbia produced at its prime? Then Joy Gould Boyum’s overview of Columbia’s screwball comedies and J.P. Telotte’s exploration of Columbia’s film noir are waiting for you! Are you in the mood for a deep dive into some of Columbia’s best-known films, such as On the Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia, Taxi Driver, and the most recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? Whatever your heart desires, you will find it in this exciting collection!

Whether you are a film scholar or an avid moviegoer, this book will keep you entertained and informed by effortlessly weaving together film criticism and studio history.

In Conclusion…

What is assured is that no matter if you take a chance on one or more of these titles, you are sure to find yourself mesmerized by classic movies. With so many great contemporary movies available to us on the variety of platforms, we often forget about old classics. The thing about great films is that they can transcend time, and the history behind them can give us a new understanding of how Hollywood works behind the scenes. So grab your friends, your family, and all the fun facts you learned from these books and check out Citizen Kane on a big screen!

Fall is Nearly Here!

Written by Daria Goncharova, Kentucky Press Marketing Intern

Although September 22nd might be considered the official start of fall, we at the University Press of Kentucky know that once Pumpkin Spice Latte has appeared on the menu at Starbucks, it’s time to pull out our cozy cardigans, find the perfect chair or the perfect outdoor bench, and settle in with a good story.

While you are waiting for the temperature to drop, we’ve prepared the ultimate bucket list of titles and activities guaranteed to put you in the mood for “sweater weather.”

1. Go to the lake

Land Between the Lakes, National Recreational Area | Link to original

In Kentucky, the temperature might remain in the toasty 75-85 range through late September. A quick trip to the water will help you cool off and pretend that the breeze on your skin is really the crisp breath of fall season. Escape to one of Kentucky’s many lakes with a copy of Jayne Moore Waldrop’s Drowned Town and you will find yourself engulfed into the stories of western Kentucky’s townsfolk whose lives have been shaped by the land and lakes around them.

“Once they built Kentucky Dam, nothing was the same. Then came Lake Barkley. And then somebody in Washington decided we needed a recreation area, a wilderness, so they moved everybody out from Between the Rivers and renamed it Land Between the Lakes.”

Excerpt from Drowned Town

Drowned Town follows the lives of two friends, Margaret and Cam, who, despite their close friendship, are as different as night and day. Cam, “a muddy-boot kind of woman”, grew up in rural western Kentucky and provides a point of contrast for Margaret, “a city girl, born and raised in Louisville” who prefers high heels to muddy boots (28). Shifting between the past and the present, the story follows the friends’ struggles and journeys while showing how the creation of Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam and the lakes that resulted from this impoundment affected their families in different ways.

Beautifully written and thought-provoking, Waldrop’s novel will make you dwell on the importance of friendship, family, sisterhood, and the places that shape you.

2. Go apple-picking

A photo of a man holding an apple at Eckert’s Orchard | Link to original

Save the pumpkin patch for October and go apple-picking instead! Evans Orchard opens its apple season on the second weekend of September, so grab your plaid shirt and your family and friends for a day of fun. Or if you are in the romantic mood, Eckert’s Orchard offers a “Date Night” with apple-picking and hard-cider-sipping every Thursday in September.

After you bring your apple-picking haul home, try this recipe for Bourbon–Sour Cream Apple Pie with Crumb Topping from Bourbon Desserts featuring over seventy-five recipes that pay homage to “America’s official native spirit.” Organized by category, this cookbook from acclaimed food writer and home chef Lynn Marie Hulsman will provide you with fun facts about bourbon and easy-to-follow instructions for finger-licking good results!

“I’m an American, so I guess I have to say I like apple pie. I don’t pass it up, but I don’t really go looking for it. This version, however, has captured my fancy. The tang of the sour cream takes the bite out of the apples’ tartness. And the crumb topping is almost like eating candied nuts. The bourbon, though, is what kicks this up into the ‘must have’ category for me.”

Excerpt from Bourbon Desserts

For the crust:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter, cold
  • ¼ cup apple cider, cold

For the filling:

  • 8 medium Winesap or McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1⅔ cups full-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the topping

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

To make the crust:

 In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two butter knives until the mixture looks like small, sandy pebbles. Add the cider and mix gently with a fork until combined. Gather the dough into a ball, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a circle slightly larger than a deep 10-inch pie plate, about ¼ inch thick. Line the crust up over the plate and press it in, crimping a thick, high rim at the edge. Set aside.

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the apples, sour cream, sugar, flour, egg, bourbon, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and mix well using a rubber spatula. Ladle the filling into the crust, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the filling is set up in the middle and golden brown on top, about 40 minutes. (If the crust is browning too quickly, shield the crust only with aluminum foil.)

To make the topping:

While the crust and filling bake, combine the walnuts, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium-sized mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to combine. Using your hands, blend in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spoon the topping over pie, and bake for 15 minutes more, until brown. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap or foil, for up to 5 days.

3. Read at the park

Jacobson Park in Lexington, KY | Link to original

While going to the lake or the apple orchard is a perfect weekend activity, you can still enjoy the glimpses of fall during the workdays. Savor a peaceful moment in the shadow of a tree during your lunch break or after work with a warm mug of tea and a copy of Heartwood. A leafy tree in one of Kentucky’s parks will provide you with plenty of shade and the perfect atmosphere for reading this captivating novel by National Book Award–winning author, Nikky Finney.

“When you peel back the bark of a tree, the hardest wood, tucked deep inside, is called the heartwood. This wood is the heart of the tree itself, both its soul and its center. This story called Heartwood has some of the most plain-talking, stubborn, and outspoken people I’ve ever met. My hope is that they will remind you of someone you know or something you have witnessed in your own life. These people and their stories are the heartwood of their communities. They put a human face to the land they live on and the air they breathe.”

Excerpt from Preface to Heartwood

Set in a rural area of Kentucky, the novel follows the story of Trina Sims, a proud ambitious Black woman, and Jenny Bryan, a white woman haunted by personal demons and racist upbringing. Although their first interaction doesn’t go well, a few days together make them realize that they both crave understanding and a fresh start. A heart-warming story about what makes us different and alike, Heartwood is destined to be your next page-turner.

4. Watch an old movie

Movie posters of our picks| by Daria Goncharova

If you don’t feel like going anywhere, then treat yourself to a movie night at home. Nothing says fall more than curling up under a blanket with a warm mug of your favorite drink, some candles, and a good movie on the TV screen. Check out Kings Go Forth (1958) or West Side Story (1961) if you are in the mood for a good love story and Halloween (1978) or Candyman (1992) if you can’t wait for the spooky season.

After you watch an old classic, read about one of the biggest stars from Classical Hollywood cinema, Natalie Wood, whose life was more fascinating than any movie.

Gavin Lambert’s Natalie Wood explores the life and legacy of the star who captivated millions with her radiant beauty and “vulnerable sweetness” from her time as a child actor to her untimely death in 1981. An American of Russian descent, Natalie grew up on a movie set making her film debut in Happy Land (1943) when she was only four years old. A renowned biographer, novelist, and screenwriter, Lambert traces the effects of this early movie exposure as he examines Wood’s emotionally abusive childhood, anxiety-ridden marriages and motherhood, rewarding yet challenging acting career, and her mysterious death at the age of forty-three. Lambert, who personally knew Wood, weaves together his memories of Natalie with the recollections of those closest to the actress: her husbands, Robert Wagner and Richard Gregson, and her friends, actor Warren Beatty, playwright Mart Crowley, directors Robert Mulligan and Paul Mazursky, and actress Leslie Caron.

Driven by these first-hand accounts brought together for the very first time, Lambert’s emotionally powerful book about the remarkable woman is bound to keep you hooked on until the very last page.

5. Mix a fall cocktail

A photo of Cider and Maple Old Fashioned by Michael Wurm, Jr.| Link to original

If you prefer a stronger beverage to tea or cider, then mix yourself a classic fall cocktail such as Autumn Apple Bourbon Cocktail or Cider and Maple Old Fashioned and plan a trip to  one of Kentucky’s distilleries with Susan Reigler’s Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide. This expanded edition not only covers the history of bourbon country, but also offers useful information and practical advice to anyone who wants to explore Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, or one of more than sixty other distilleries in Kentucky. Reigler points out that fall is the perfect time to visit one of the distilleries since the days are getting cooler and September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. If you need another day outing, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in Bardstown in September. So grab your friends and Susan Reigler’s travel guide and explore bourbon’s variety in Kentucky!

6. Paint a fall scene

Finally, as you wait for the leaves to turn yellow, why not try your hand at painting a fall scene with Bill Caddell and Flo Caddell’s The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard as your guide? Hubbard was born in Bellevue, Kentucky, in 1900, but his family moved to New York when he was only twelve years old. After studying art in the National Academy of Design in New York and at the Cincinnati Academy of Art, Hubbard returned to Kentucky in 1952. His vibrant watercolor paintings with confident strokes of pencil and crayons will transport you to the wilds  of rural Kentucky, while the accompanying anecdotes will inspire you to experiment with colors in your own composition.

Fig. 1.13 Untitled, watercolor and pencil on paper, November 28, 1932 | from The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard
Fig. 2.6 Untitled (near Silver Grove railroad yard and Harlan’s studio on Sandfoss Farm), watercolor and pencil on paper, 1930s | from The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard

Tour Kentucky with Kentucky Press

Written by Rachel Crick, Kentucky Press Marketing Intern

Kentucky is a beautiful state, rich in culture, history, and nature, making it a wonderful place to explore. There are attractions for everyone to enjoy, from gorgeous state parks to historic bourbon distilleries, and there’s no better place to learn about them from Kentucky Press collection of books. Whether you’re a native just looking to experience some of your state’s most interesting attractions or if you’re new to Kentucky, we’ve got you covered! Make this summer fun by exploring some of the attractions pulled from Kentucky Bourbon Country 3rd Edition and The Complete Guide to Kentucky State Parks.

If you’re outdoorsy…

1. Breaks Interstate Park

This gorgeous natural park in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia features one of the most notable natural landmarks in the Eastern United States, dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the South.” This park is a great place to hike, kayak, and camp. Its flora and fauna, as well as its scenic beauty, make it a must-see for everyone in Kentucky. You can even rent a cabin and stay for a couple days!

2. Carter Caves

While not as “mammoth” as Kentucky’s largest cave system, Carter Caves State Resort Park features at least 20. In addition to cave tours highlighting underground water features and interesting rock formations, the park has trails where you can see wildflowers blooming in the spring and early summer. There’s also a lodge, a campground, and cottage rentals, as well as the opportunity to fish or canoe.

3. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Cumberland Falls has been referred to as the Niagara of the South, but Niagara Falls isn’t home to the only regularly occurring moonbow in the Western Hemisphere! When there’s a full moon and a clear sky, there’s a visible moonbow in the mist from the falls. It may be tricky to time it just right, but if you can get to the falls on a clear night with a full moon, it will be well worth it! Even without the moonbow, the falls are a gorgeous natural wonder and there are plenty of opportunities to hike, fish, canoe, and even go horseback riding. There are also cabin rentals and camping, giving you plenty of opportunity for a nighttime trip to the falls in hopes of seeing that famous moonbow.

Photograph by William V Cox | Design219Cumberland Falls Moonbow panaramaCC BY-SA 4.0

If you like history…

1. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village was established by the Shakers in 1805 and has been restored since then. Guests can stay overnight on the property and enjoy traditional Shaker fare, as well as some bourbon, at the restaurant. Staff tend to animals and crops and make traditional Shaker furniture, giving guests a glimpse of what the original Shaker Village might have been like. There are also forty miles of hiking and equestrian trails, some of which run along the Kentucky River. While Shaker Village is no longer home to Shakers, it pays homage to their way of life and offers a rewarding experience for history lovers.

Photo by AT Crossland | Link to original

2. Frazier History Museum

This is the designated starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail! This museum, located on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville, is home to an eclectic variety of exhibits related to Kentucky history. The subjects of the exhibits range from Kentucky’s role in the Civil War to the fight for women’s suffrage in the state. And of course, there is an exhibit surrounding bourbon! This collection of fascinating tidbits of Kentucky history, as well as its place on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, make this museum worth checking out.

3. Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site

Are you a history buff? Then you shouldn’t miss out on one of the most historically significant sites in Kentucky, the place where one of the most important battles of the Civil War was fought. Kentucky’s unique position as a border state made it critical for both the Union and the Confederacy to keep, and the Battle of Perryville was the decisive battle that kept the state in the Union and helped the Union claim victory against the Confederacy. The site features a museum and gorgeous walking trails for you to explore while you learn about Kentucky’s past.

If you want to learn more about Kentucky culture…

1. Whiskey Row in Louisville

It may be cheating to combine Whiskey Row into just one item on the list, considering how many attractions are present in this fifteen-block stretch of Louisville. But really, how can you separate them when they’re all such a short walk away from one another? This area in Kentucky’s largest city features many museums, bars, restaurants, boutiques, and hotels within blocks of each other. The community advocated for its preservation and restoration, and thanks to the renaissance of bourbon, this spot remains a bustling, popular attraction that encompasses so many of the great things about Kentucky at once.    

Source: PublichallLouisville – Hamilton Brothers WarehouseCC BY-SA 3.0

2. Buffalo Trace Distillery

Located in Frankfort, Buffalo Trace Distillery is home to some of Kentucky’s most famous and well-loved bourbons—think Pappy’s, Weller, and Blanton’s! The property sits on 200 acres and has more than 100 buildings. Different tours allow visitors to see different parts of the massive property and learn about different things, from the distillery’s rich history to the bourbon-making process. Stick around until the end of the tour for a free sample!

Source: Jaimin TrivediBuffalo Trace Distillery Barrel Aging Warehouse (inside)CC BY-SA 4.0

3. Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum

Did you know that the Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuous annual sporting event in the United States? It’s also a cornerstone of Kentucky culture, making Churchill Downs essential to visit if you want to know more about the Bluegrass State. Races are held from April until the end of June, and again in October and November. The Kentucky Derby Museum, located next to Churchill Downs, is an excellent place to learn more about the history behind the Derby, and it’s full of interactive exhibits and even a café for sampling bourbons! Visitors can also take tours of Churchill Downs, including the track where the Run for the Roses takes place.  

Source: Abbie MyersChurchill Downs (from roof)CC BY-SA 4.0

Remember, this list of places to explore in Kentucky this summer is far from complete! To learn more about what the Bluegrass State has to offer, pick up copies of Kentucky Bourbon Country 3rd Edition and The Complete Guide to Kentucky State Parks from your favorite bookstore or!

Plan Your Derby Day with UPK

Written by Rachel Crick, UPK Marketing Intern

We at University Press of Kentucky are counting down the days to the Derby—in case you were wondering, there’s only 8 left!

The Derby is a long-honored tradition that embodies our favorite things about the Bluegrass State, from Thoroughbreds to delicious Kentucky bourbons. An equally important tradition is the Derby party! While things may look a little different this year, we can help you plan a fabulous (and safe) Derby party for the books!

Churchill Downs on Derby Day, 1902


An excellent way to celebrate the Derby and all things Kentucky is with some classic southern cooking. This recipe from Ouita Michel’s cookbook, Just A Few Miles South, is perfect for any Derby celebration! Benedictine is a delicious spread that originated in Kentucky and is great on crackers, crudités, and sandwiches.

2 large cucumbers (about 9 ounces each)
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
Onion juice to taste; start with ½ teaspoon (see note below)
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
3–4 dashes hot sauce

Peel cucumbers, retaining a bit of skin for color. Puree in a food processor. Squeeze cucumber puree in cheesecloth, removing as much liquid as possible. This keeps the spread from being too runny. Cucumber juice is delicious in a Bloody Mary or chilled with a splash of lemon and vodka.

Combine all ingredients in a mixer or food processor and mix until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: For onion juice, grate one-quarter of a peeled onion on a cheese grater and squeeze out the juice using cheesecloth.


In addition to food, you’ll need cocktails, and we’ve got you covered. Of course, the signature beverage for the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep, but an equally delicious cocktail native to Kentucky is the signature cocktail of Louisville’s historic Seelbach Hotel.  Try this delicious recipe for the Seelbach Cocktail from Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon?.

1½ ounces bourbon
1½ ounces Cointreau
7 dashed Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
4 ounces chilled brut champagne or California sparkling wine
Orange twist for garnish

Pour each of the ingredients, in the order listed, into a champagne flute. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, KY, circa 1910

Party Tips

Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon? serves as the ultimate guide to hosting your very own outdoor Derby Bourbon tasting! It’s filled with delicious bourbon cocktails that embody the spirit of Kentucky and an abundance of useful tips and tricks to keep your party flowing smoothly. For your Derby celebration, try these helpful hints:

Print copies of the lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home” and distribute them to your guests so they can sing along, too.

Try using mint-infused bourbon in your mint juleps! One technique, shared by Ouita Michel, is to fill an empty bourbon bottle with as much fresh mint as you can pack into it. Pour bourbon back into the bottle, seal it, and leave it in a cool, dark place for a year. On the next Derby day, you’ll have mint-infused bourbon for your juleps!

For easy Derby-themed centerpieces, intertwine flowers with equine-related props such as horseshoes, miniature trophies, and small horse figurines.

Whether you’re hosting your own outdoor bourbon tasting or watching the Run for the Roses from your couch, we hope these recipes and party tricks will help make your Derby Day memorable and fun! Get your copies of Just a Few Miles South and Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon? from your favorite bookstore or

Female Firsts: Celebrating Female Pioneers

Written by Rachel Crick, UPK Marketing Intern

March is Women’s History Month. It’s a time for celebrating the achievements and stories of women of our past—women whose achievements have been underappreciated for years. There’s no better way to observe Women’s History Month than to honor female pioneers throughout our history; women who have broken barriers to make important and lasting contributions to our world. Without further ado, here are five books from University Press of Kentucky featuring female “firsts” who inspire us, and whose legacies live on through the marks they made on the world.

1. A Simple Justice by Melanie Beals Goan

The nineteenth amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, was passed in 1920. When you think of the suffragettes, the women who campaigned for women’s right to vote, the names Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton likely come to mind. A Simple Justice looks at the fight for women’s suffrage in the unique political and social landscape of Kentucky. As a border state, there were conflicting stakeholders surrounding racial equality, religion, and Southern identity that complicated the fight for the vote.

This book discusses prominent women who campaigned for women’s suffrage in Kentucky who worked together for decades trying to secure the vote for women. Featured heavily throughout are founding members of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, also known as KERA, which campaigned for both the vote and for smaller legislative victories. While this progressive organization did a lot for women’s suffrage and gender equality in Kentucky, there were many women outside of the organization whose contributions were just as important. The hard work and personal sacrifices of these Kentucky women were key for earning Kentucky women equality—and the vote—and have certainly earned them the title of pioneers. Below are two of the many women featured in this fascinating book, along with some of their most important accomplishments. 

Josephine Henry, a founding member of KERA, was instrumental in the passage of the Married Woman’s Property Act of 1894. This Kentucky law gave married women the right to own property in their own name, rather than their husband’s, and was considered a key steppingstone in the fight for women’s equality.

Mary Ellen Britton was an activist and an educator who gave the first recorded suffrage speech in Kentucky at a teacher’s conference in Danville in 1887, a year before KERA was even formed. She was a teacher, a journalist, and she was also the first black female physician in Kentucky. Her remarks were published and her message was inclusive and intersectional. Her accomplishments are especially extraordinary considering the racial inequality of the time. You can read a transcript of her 1887 speech here.

2. A Doctor for Rural America by Barbara Barksdale Clowse

This biography explores the life and work of Frances Sage Bradley, another noteworthy woman whose important work in rural Appalachian communities made her a pioneer of public health reform. She was one of the first women to graduate from Cornell University Medical School, despite being a widow with four young children. She worked to improve infant and maternal mortality rates in rural communities. Her work was important in demonstrating the necessity of the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921, also known as the Maternity and Infancy Protection Act. This piece of legislation was the first federally funded social welfare program. Bradley was an impressive woman whose ideas were well ahead of her time. Her progressive ideals, writing, and field work significantly improved the standards for medicine in rural communities, and her ideas about the government’s responsibility to provide healthcare to its citizens are just as relevant today. 

3. Katherine Jackson French by Elizabeth DiSavino

Katherine Jackson French: The Forgotten Ballad Collector tells the story of a musical scholar and pioneer. French was only the second woman to earn a PhD from Colombia University. Her impressive collection of traditional Kentucky ballads, a feat which should have earned her recognition, was never published due to academic rivalries and gender prejudice. Her important (though underappreciated) research painted a complex portrait of Appalachia, one which was overshadowed by the same stereotypes we see today. Her work, had it been published, could have established Appalachia as a site for rich cultural and musical contributions. You can learn more about French’s ballad collection here.

4. Breaking Protocol by Philip Nash

Glass ceilings in American politics are still being shattered to this day. Just this year, the first female vice president was sworn in. Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964, explores how the glass ceiling of American diplomacy was shattered with the appointments of the first six female diplomats. Women had previously been excluded from these appointments for a variety of sexist reasons. Once appointed, each of these women faced a high level of scrutiny in addition to the regular pressures that come with being an American diplomat. Ruth Bryan Owen, Florence “Daisy” Harriman, Perle Mesta, Eugenie Anderson, Clare Boothe Luce, and Frances Willis were the first six women to break the protocol of the US State Department by being appointed as ambassadors, but they went on to be extremely influential in US foreign relations. This book explores the lives, accomplishments, and challenges of these inspirational women.

5. Our Rightful Place by Terry Birdwhistell and Deirdre A. Scaggs

The fight for gender equality can be seen in every major institution of society, and higher education is no exception. At the University of Kentucky, the fight was led by several influential women, whose lives and contributions are discussed in Our Rightful Place: A History of Women at the University of Kentucky, 1880-1945. One of these women, Sarah Blanding, graduated from UK in 1923 at the age of 24, and was then appointed the university’s acting dean of women, becoming the youngest dean in the country. She later became a political science professor at the university before moving onto Cornell and becoming the first female dean there. She later became president of Vassar College. The book also highlights Sarah Bennett Holmes and Frances Jewell McVey, both of whom served as Dean of Women at UK and made numerous other contributions to the university throughout their lives.

Sarah Blanding

We hope you enjoyed learning about these inspirational women, and that you’ll pick up copies of the books which honor them at your favorite bookstore or at!

A Gift for Every Giver!

Written by Darian Bianco, University Press of Kentucky Marketing Intern

No matter what reason you’re using – whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or a general love for your friends and family – in the month of December, gift-giving season kicks into high-gear! Personally, I love browsing around for just the right gift, the one that is perfect for each and every person on my list. As a bookworm, I prefer doling out novels that I think my loved ones would enjoy. Sometimes, it’s easy. Mom and Nana read romances, Dad only reads nonfiction (usually about war or crime) and Papa likes westerns.

But what if you don’t have the time to go hunting down that one exemplary book? I dare you to Google “Westerns” – you’ll be browsing for days, trying to determine exactly which western is the one you’re looking for. Never fear! Your University Press of Kentucky gift guide is here! Sit back with some hot cocoa, grab a blanket, and peruse these titles offered in our Holiday Sale. Every title included here ranges from 50-75% off, plus free shipping via USPS Media Mail! You’re sure to find the perfect book to snuggle with among this list of treasures, and these are great options for someone on a book-buying budget who doesn’t want to break the bank!

  1. What to Get your Basketball-Obsessed Dad?

Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Paint, edited by Jerry L. Walls and Gregory Bassham, foreword by Dick Vitale

We take our sports seriously in these parts, and it could be argued that some of Kentucky’s most serious fans are basketball fans. Picture this: your father, sitting in his recliner, remote clutched in hand, hollering at the TV because that was clearly a foul, is the ref blind? Quite the clear picture, isn’t it? Maybe, you could quiet him down and make him happy with this book. Basketball and Philosophy sounds heavy, but at the end of the day, this book is not just about the sport, but about the values and ethics that you learn not only by playing on a basketball team, but also loving and committing to the sport. In Basketball and Philosophy, a Dream Team of twenty-six basketball fans, most of whom also happen to be philosophers, prove that basketball is the thinking person’s sport. They look at what happens when the Tao meets the hardwood as they explore the teamwork, patience, selflessness, and balanced and harmonious action that make up the art of playing basketball.

Praise: “The simple American game played with ball and net has prompted some deep thinking among its players, coaches, and fans… and this remarkably profound and wide-ranging collection of essays exposes readers to some of the best of that thinking.” — Booklist

2. What to Get your Music-Loving Mom?

A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music, by Jason Howard, foreword by Rodney Crowell

There aren’t too many states that are known for a particular brand of music, but as the Bluegrass state, we can proudly stake our claim to Bluegrass music. We’re also well-known for music that comes out of the Appalachian region, some of the most soulful and heartfelt music in the country. If your Mom is anything like my Mom, she loves music, to the point where she will try and sing along to something even if she doesn’t know the words. If you catch your Mom cleaning or cooking, I’d bet that she has some tunes on in the background, not only to keep her energized, but to give her something to dance around to. In that case, A Few Honest Words is the perfect book for her to read when she finally kicks back with her feet up to relax. A Few Honest Words explores how Kentucky’s landscape, culture, and traditions have influenced notable contemporary musicians. Featuring intimate interviews with household names (Naomi Judd, Joan Osborne, and Dwight Yoakam), emerging artists, and local musicians, author Jason Howard’s rich and detailed profiles reveal the importance of the state and the Appalachian region to the creation and performance of music in America.

Praise: “A thoughtful and important book. It’s tremendously satisfying that specific areas of the South are receiving their due attention. Kentucky has given so much to the landscape of American music.” — Rosanne Cash

3. What to Get your Foodie Best Friend?

Eating as I Go: Scenes from America and Abroad, by Doris Friedensohn

What’s the #1 thing that friends like to do when they go out together? You’ve got it – eat! How better to enjoy someone’s company than with a tasty meal and pleasant conversation? However, you’ve got to keep the menu fresh, right? Sure, you and your bestie can have some tried and true restaurants you always come back to, but maybe you need ideas of new places to go, new foods to try, fresh memories to make! In that case, Eating as I Go will not only give you and your best friend ideas about strange and enticing meals the world over, it will warm hearts and make you laugh. If you get your bestie Eating as I Go, maybe you can finally spring for that trip abroad to the Mediterranean or the Middle East – once it’s safe to travel, of course! Doris Friedensohn’s wry dramas of the dining room, restaurant, market, and kitchen ripple with tensions – political, religious, psychological, and spiritual. Eating as I Go is one woman’s distinctive mélange of memoir, traveler’s tale, and cultural commentary.

Praise: “In quiet tones, Friedensohn describes meals eaten and friendships formed over the years, both in the United States and abroad… An enjoyable volume.” — Publisher Weekly

4. What to Get your Gardening Grandmother?

Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky, by Thomas G. Barnes, Deborah White and Marc Evans

With age comes wisdom, and I feel that often, the greatest wisdom in anyone’s life comes from their grandparents, often the grandmother specifically. They know all the recipes, they’ve experienced every life lesson, and they know how to spread kindness and joy wherever they go. I also feel that most grandmothers at some point gain a green thumb, whether they simply keep potted plants in the window, or have a full-blown garden growing in the backyard. If you’re wanting to introduce your grandmother to flowers that she perhaps hasn’t seen before, Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky is the perfect choice! Even if your grandmother isn’t the type to go out and search for flowers, the beautiful pictures will enrich her spirit and reinvigorate her own care for the plants she has in her home. Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky is both a celebration and a call to action to save the plants that are a vital part of Kentucky’s natural heritage.

Praise: “Beyond reading about the state’s flora, Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky offers its reader a unique opportunity to view many of these disappearing wildflowers seen infrequently by the average person.” — UK News

5. What to Get your Military-Loving Grandfather?

Generals of the Army: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley, edited by James H. Willbanks, foreword by Gordon R. Sullivan

I feel like speaking with grandfathers about the past can go one of two ways. If you’re speaking about the recent past – maybe asking what your grandfather had for dinner last night – there’s a good chance he won’t remember, because it isn’t important. If you decide to ask, however, about what happened on a certain day in history during World War II, watch his eye’s light up as he recounts what he learned, what he read about and studied in school. Grandfathers’ remember what matters, and the military history of our country seems to stick our more than anything else. If your grandfather enjoys learning about our country’s past success and honor, Generals of the Army, covering the five men who have been given the five-star general ranking, will be the perfect book for him to learn from and teach you about later. Coinciding with the U.S. Mint’s release of a series of special commemorative coins honoring these soldiers and the fort where they were based, this concise volume offers an intriguing look at the lives of these remarkable men and the contributions they made to the defense of the nation.

Praise: “Though Leavenworth graduates have served with distinction in every conflict since its founding, this book is a tribute to Generals of the Army George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry H. ‘Hap’ Arnold, and Omar N. Bradley; to the venerable military posts that molded and shaped them; and to every officer who ever has or ever will serve at Fort Leavenworth.” – General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.)

6. What to Get your Crime-Show Obsessed Cousin?

Murder and Madness: The Myth of the Kentucky Tragedy, by Matthew G. Schoenbachler

Documentaries about crime and murder are all the rage these days – just look at the Ted Bundy tapes on Netflix, or the show Snapped that is constantly running late night on cable. I think everyone has at least one family member who loves to watch murder documentaries. Haven’t you ever had a cousin describe a gruesome homicide they learned about while passing along the mashed potatoes? Warm, fuzzy memories indeed. However, due to quarantine, your cousin may be running out of fresh, gory material to consume. Never fear! Murder and Madness is the perfect book to give your cousin chills when they hear something go bump in the night. Not only will they learn about a case they’ve probably never heard of before, they’ll learn about a case native to Kentucky – and how cool is that? The murder, trial, conviction, and execution of the killer, as well as the suicide of his wife, Anna Cooke Beauchamp – fascinated Americans… In Murder and Madness, Matthew G. Schoenbachler peels away two centuries of myth to provide a more accurate account of the murder.

Praise: “Schoenbachler presents the story in an entirely new light, revealing how the murderer and his wife played on the public’s emotions and beliefs by consciously manipulating their story to conform to images of the righteous hero and the compromised virtuous woman who were at the time the subjects of popular Romantic fiction.” – Book News

7. What to Get your Exploratory Brother?

Mammoth Cave National Park: Reflections, by Raymond Klass

Just like there’s always one true crime obsessed member of a family, there’s also always one daredevil in the family. For now, let’s say that’s your brother, who’s a mostly well-adjusted human being until he casually mentions wanting to bungee-jump off of something, or climb something really tall with few to no ropes. Sure, you shake your head at him, but you do admire his adventurous spirit, and he always talks about the views and sights he gets to see. It’s a little hard to go exploring in certain places right now, but until some locations go public again, you can get your brother Mammoth Cave National Park to get him excited for when he can set out into the world again. The pictures in this book are sure to give him something to look forward to! While living at the park, he (Raymond Klass) took thousands of photographs of famous cave formations, such as Frozen Niagara and the Drapery Room, as well as scenery and wildlife not often seen by the general public.

Praise: “This coffee-table book filled with pictures of Kentucky’s most famous attraction is beautiful and is as much a personal reflection on time spent in the forest as it is a reflection of what Klass captured in his camera.” – Bowling Green Daily News

8. What to Get your Beer-Cheese Connoisseur Uncle?

The Beer Cheese Book, by Garin Pirnia

Have you ever heard of beer cheese? Well, if you haven’t, know that it is exactly what it sounds like – a combination of beer, cheese, and some spices thrown in for a kick. Maybe you heard about it from your uncle, who makes it once a year and brings it to the family reunion. He’ll eat most of it himself, talking about how hard it is to find good beer cheese in restaurants these days, how he feels like the art of making and enjoying beer cheese is slowly dying off. Never fear, Uncle Beer Cheese! If you get him The Beer Cheese Book, he will be excited to find out that not only is beer cheese alive and well, he can find restaurants in the state that serve his favorite dip and drizzle. Packed full of interviews with restauranteurs who serve it, artisans who process it, and even home cooks who enter their special (and secret) recipes in contests, The Beer Cheese Book will entertain and educate, all while making your mouth water. Fortunately, it will also teach you how to whip up your own batch.

Praise: “The author harnesses her cult fondness for the fromage – even the tepid imitators – taking readers on a journey along the Beer Cheese Trail (with some detours) and serving up 20 specialty recipes.” – Cincinnati Magazine

9. What to Get your Very Emotional Aunt?

Chinaberry, by James Still, edited by Silas House

Without fail, at every family get together, there will be the aunt who will find a reason to reminisce and cry. Maybe she won’t even be reminiscing about something sad – she might suddenly get very nostalgic for when you were little, and without warning, she’s crying into the appetizer. It’s sweet, endearing, but maybe you could find something for her to cry about, enjoy, and perhaps discuss something at the table that has nothing to do with the time you were in diapers. In that case, Chinaberry could very well be the perfect book to pass along. This book is a story of home, the importance of home regardless of whether it is a place or people, something that any family can relate to. A combination of memoir and imagination, truth and fiction, Chinaberry is a work of art that leaves the read in awe of Still’s mastery of language and grateful for the lifetime of wisdom that manifests itself in his work.

Praise: “Superbly edited by Silas House, Chinaberry is further confirmation that James Still is not only a great Appalachian writer but a great American writer.” – Ron Rash, author of One Foot in Eden

10. What to get your Scandal-Enthralled Sister?

Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel, by Maryjean Wall

Just as there is always a family crier, a family nut, and a family troublemaker, there will also be a family gossip. You’re certainly familiar with your sister snagging the chair next to you, only to lean over and whisper about the drama happening wherever she’s come from, normally about people you don’t even know. It can be fun, to whisper about low stakes gossip you have no hand in, but do you ever wish you and your sister could gossip about the same thing? In that case, how about you read Madam Belle, and get a copy for your sister too? Instead of gossiping about strangers when your sister calls, you can instead gossip about what Belle Brezing gets up to, becoming one of the most powerful and influential madams in the South. Following Brezing from her birth amid the ruins of the Civil War to the height of her scarlet fame and beyond, Wall uses her story to explore a wider world of sex, business, politics, and power. The result is a scintillating tale that is as enthralling as any fiction.

Praise: “Wall has achieved the almost impossible. This engaging biography comes as close to revealing the life of Belle as is possible.” – Decatur Tribune

Even if these exact family members don’t fit with every book or genre, hopefully each of these books can call someone to mind. A book is an extremely personal present to get – you’re not only thinking of what the other person likes, but you’re gifting them an experience, a journey that the two of you can go on together. Isn’t that the point of the holidays, to share time and love with your favorite people? I hope that this gift guide made your shopping a little easier to accomplish, and hey, maybe you’ll want to snag one of these books for yourself too!

Happy Holidays from the University Press of Kentucky!

Bourbon or Dessert? Why Not Both?

Written by Darian Bianco, UPK Marketing Intern

The November chill is just beginning to set in, and suddenly, we all have another reason to stay cooped up indoors. We’ve already read every book on our shelves — twice — played every board game, binge-watched every Netflix show we were interested in. What to do with ourselves now, when suddenly, we are without the possibility of finding a park to stroll through, or at least a picnic bench to sit at?

Never fret — tis the season for recipes! One thing you can always expect from the month of November is good food, and that’s something I’ll be sharing with you all today. I must, however, offer two prefaces. The first is that I am not a professional chef or baker by any means. I make a mean spaghetti, but otherwise, my cooking and baking is trial and error, occasionally saying “oh well” and hoping nothing blows up. More often than not, my fiancé has to jump in, just to make sure I don’t paint our kitchen white with flour. The second preface is that I have a sweet tooth. Doesn’t matter how much I ate for dinner; I can always make room for dessert. Hence, why I’ve decided the first recipe I would test and share is a cake!

I broke open Bourbon Desserts by Lynn Marie Hulsman and tried to keep from salivating as I read the many, many dessert options I had to pick from. Bourbon Pecan-Pie Muffins, Bourn and Buttermilk Pie in a Cream Cheese Crust, Bourbon Blackout Sorbet, Sweet and Boozy Graham Cracker Candies, Warm Chocolate and Bourbon Silk — is your mouth watering yet? Sorry, misery loves company. Regardless, I flagged my fiancé, Evan, down and asked him which recipe he would like to try, since he would inevitably wind up helping me at some point or another. Eventually, he landed on the Light Chocolate Layer Cake with Bourbon and Cream Cheese Frosting.

The ingredients for this decadent dessert are as follows:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (Hulsman prefers Scharffen Berger’s)
  • 2 cups of water, boiling
  • 2 and 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pans
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Surprisingly, we already had many of these ingredients crammed into our pantry — all I needed to go out and buy were the cocoa powder, baking soda, and butter. We also realized that this recipe called for an electric mixer, of which we do not own. We decided we would mix it by hand, electricity be damned. It would be more rewarding that way, right?

It all started with preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. That was the easy part. I greased our cake pan with butter afterwards. Granted, the recipe says to also line the pan with flour, and to use three cake pans as opposed to one, but I was making do with the resources I had available.

Once the two cups of water I had set on the stove reached a boil, Evan began to very carefully add the cocoa mix to the water. He was more trustworthy with this task — he has a steadier hand, cooking experience, and I have a reputation of breaking objects and/or myself. While there was a brief spatter incident, we eventually mixed the cocoa and water into a smooth mixture that tasted delicious.

While he had been mixing the cocoa and water, I was sifting together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Basically, I had the easy job, and I was able to set the bowl of powders aside to move on to the next task, which was creaming the butter and sugar together.

Now, this is the step we were meant to have an electric mixer for. Upon realizing we only had one very small bowl left and a single rubber spatula, it occurred to me that this was going to be a laborious process. In swooped Evan yet again — he plopped down in the recliner and patiently, methodically, creamed the butter and sugar together by hand. In most situations, I’m the one with more patience, but he was a godsend that evening. We took turns cracking the eggs into the mixture, and finally, it was time to combine all of it together to create the batter.

The work from there went quickly, as we combined our three separate bowls into one. I was honestly a little surprised when it resulted in a batter-like consistency. Had I actually managed (with a lot of help) to make a cake? One way to find out. We spooned the batter into the baking pan and spread it smoothly, before popping it into the oven for twenty-five minutes. It was a thick mixture, and I had my doubts as to whether it would actually be finished in twenty-five minutes; but once again, my doubts were spun on their head. Twenty-five minutes later, after poking the cake with a fork, it was finished. Slices were doled out to myself and a friend who was over to visit, while my fiancé and roommate stole bites.

It was delicious. Light, fluffy, chocolate-y, you name it. I give Evan 75% of the credit, but I was still proud of myself. I had made something edible. Will wonders never cease?

Now, you may be thinking: Wait. Where’s the bourbon and cream cheese frosting? My answer is two-fold. First, Evan is not a big fan of icing, and given that he did most of the work, I wasn’t going to cover the fruits of his labors in something he hates. Also — I completely missed that the icing recipe was on the next page. Oops! But hey, it works out as a lovely teaser. If you want to attempt this recipe for yourself, and if you want to do it properly, you’ll just have to invest in Bourbon Desserts by Lynn Marie Hulsman. It is packed to the brim with delicious recipes, and if I can manage to follow her directions and make something that tastes good, you certainly can too.

I hope you attempt a scrumptious bourbon dessert in preparation for Thanksgiving! UPK wishes you the best in all of your baking endeavors.

Scariest Ghosts in Kentucky

Written by Rachel Crick, UPK Marketing Intern

Happy Spooky Season! We at the University Press of Kentucky would like to help you get in the spooky spirit by spotlighting some of the scariest ghosts from two of our books, Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell, and Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt. These are extraordinary tales from ordinary people that recount frightening instances of all kinds. Seen or unseen, malicious or mischievous, these ghosts appear everywhere from private family homes to public roads and institutions. Whether you’re a believer or not, the ghosts that made this list are ones you would never want to meet.

5. The Pisgah Road Walking Companion
From Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt

This story comes from a man in his eighties, who remembers a terrifying experience his brother had long ago as a child. He was walking home from school by himself on Pisgah Road. The night was very dark. He had almost made it to a clearing in the trees when he realized he was not alone.

“Suddenly there was a woman walking right along beside him dressed in a black, black dress, and a black hat with a veil over her face, and everything. She was just there! She didn’t say anything. She kept step with him. He kept stepping faster and faster, and she would keep stepping faster and faster.”

When the man’s brother broke into a run, she disappeared, but according to the storyteller, this mysterious woman shrouded in black was making frightening appearances in Georgetown, too. The woman in black is known for simply keeping pace and walking beside you, but it’s her silence and all-black garb that earn her a spot on the list of scariest ghosts.   

4. The Crawling Man
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

With this ghost, the name itself is enough to send a chill down your spine. The unique way this ghost terrified and tormented a Kentucky homeowner is what earns the Crawling Man his spot on the list of scariest ghosts. 

“As she went to bed she began to hear the most horrible groans and moans coming from the fireplace. Being scared to death afraid to move, the hair on her head would stand up, for out of the fireplace the dark figure of a man would come crawling to the foot of her bed. Then, it would return to the fireplace taking on something awful.”

According to the story, the Crawling Man eventually left the poor homeowner alone, but the idea of a ghostly visitor crawling toward your bed on a nightly basis is creepy beyond measure. That’s one ghost to hope and pray you never meet.

3. The Boy at 5427
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

This haunting tale takes place in the 1990s, in a nice family home that didn’t seem like your ordinary haunted house. Stories like these go to show that the most unsettling of ghostly encounters don’t always occur in dark, unfinished basements. The storyteller recalls one night he was asleep in his basement bedroom. He woke to find his door slowly creaking open, and the figure of a child coming toward him in the dark. The figure got closer and closer. He thought it was his brother, but when he reached out to grab his brother’s leg, there was nothing there. The storyteller slept upstairs for a few months and didn’t see the little ghost boy again until a friend witnessed the haunting as well.

“We had both fallen asleep. Josh had turned off the television…I woke up for no reason, then saw the little boy moving towards us. He wasn’t walking, just gliding closer and closer.”

His encounters with the gliding little boy don’t end there. Later that summer, he was watching a movie with a date when she saw something coming from the steps.

“I asked her what she was talking about, as I looked toward the stairs and saw a green bouncing ball coming toward us. It was bouncing and glowing. But as it bounced, it didn’t hit the ground…I got up, turned on the lights, and once more it was no longer there. The girl flew up the stairs quicker than I could ever imagine. She called me the next day and said she would never come in that house again, and she didn’t.” 

We can’t blame her for her hasty departure.

2. The Ghosts in Room 424
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

In an Eastern Kentucky hospital, there is a private room where strange things occur—Room 424. Patients would come out “shaken and disoriented in the morning, complaining of children dressed in white walking around the room’s bed, faces peering in the outside windows, lights flickering off and on, and bizarre whispers.” But the strangest occurrence of all happened one night after there had been a death. Normally, an attendant would’ve stayed with the body until the undertaker came, but on this night, the hospital was especially short-staffed, and the undertakers were delayed. The nurses respectfully covered the body with a sheet, drew the curtain around it, and closed the door to the room. However, once the undertaker arrived, they were unable to open the door. The charge nurse had to force the door open, and she said it felt like someone was on the other side of it, pushing. When she and the undertakers entered, they were greeted by a scene that shocked them:

“Something or someone had turned on the bathroom light, with the fluorescent tube flickering as if it had a bad electrical connection; the covers had been pulled off the body; the body itself was not lying on its back as she had left it, but on its face.”

Whether it was malicious or just a bit of mischief to them, the spirits that occupy Room 424 and their antics were witnessed by a group of people that night. The disturbing manner of their tricks that night is chilling enough to keep us as far away from Room 424.

1. The Ancestor…Or Not
From Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt

This ghost comes from a storyteller who moved into and began renovating a home that had been built by her great-great-grandfather. The first few times she spent the night, she noticed odd occurrences, such as lights turning on and off by themselves, doors vibrating, footsteps, and construction materials being moved unexplainably. Her most frightening account is one experienced by both her and her dog several months later. She was woken from her sleep on the couch by the sound of her dog squealing “a wild, horrid sound that jolted me out of a peaceful sleep.” Both she and her dog seemed to be frozen at the sight of someone—or something—standing over them.

“I lay there, motionless, with my eyes fixed on the tall, dark figure. I could see a person’s outline wearing a cloak-type garment that was dark and reached the floor, but I couldn’t make out any features in its face. The figure began to move alongside the couch. It didn’t turn and walk like a person, but moved without effort. The figure seemed almost frozen itself, moving away from me without any human mechanics of leg and arm motion. When it reached the foot of the couch, I could see the brightness of the kitchen windows behind it. It appeared to be a shadow, darker than the night. It moved with a slow and easy speed that never changed. It passed by the window and I couldn’t see it anymore. I had the feeling that It had passed through the door…but the door never opened or closed. The figure just drifted out.”

The storyteller doesn’t know who or what that entity was; could it have been her ancestor or perhaps something else? She had countless other encounters in that house: babies crying that weren’t there, and the “Night Walker,” but the entity watching her sleep is by far the most chilling. We’ll be sleeping with the lights on after reading that, thank you very much.

We hope you enjoyed this countdown of some of the scariest ghosts in Kentucky. There are plenty more bone-chilling phantoms in Tales of Kentucky Ghosts and Ghosts of the Bluegrass, so be sure to check those out at!

Still Time to Get Spooky!

Written by Darian Bianco, UPK Marketing Intern

In a world as chaotic as ours, now more than ever, people are looking for things that make them smile or laugh—a sense of escapism, if you will. Some people, however, want more than just something funny or sweet. They want a thrill. Me personally, I’m satisfied with a scary book or a horror flick with the lights turned off, but I know there are people out there who want the experience, who want to see the real thing, something that’ll send chills up their spines. I decided to do something to help all of you local adrenaline junkies out. I dove into our publication, Ghosts of Old Louisville: True Stories of Hauntings in America’s Largest Victorian Neighborhood by David Dominé.

As I leaned over the map of Old Louisville, examining the nineteen different locations detailed in the book, it occurred to me that I was born and have spent most of my life about half an hour outside of Louisville, and yet I’ve never explored the “old” part of it. Really, I’ve never explored any part of it, and that feels like a shame. Granted, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to real, scary things. The one time I went to a haunted forest, I blacked out. I can tell you little to nothing of what the forest was like – I remember yelling, screaming, strobe lights, a corn maze, and the guy who chased me with a chainsaw at the exit. However, I understand the thrill of the unknown, of having a chance to reach out to something that is Other with a capital O. With that in mind, I’ll plot out a few Old Louisville Location, places I’d like to be brave enough to visit one day, and places that you tougher folks would enjoy.

“At the center of the boulevard that runs the length of Saint James Court, and well within the view of the Conrad-Caldwell House, a large fountain splashes day and night. Locals consider this the center of Saint James Court, and as such, the heart of Old Louisville. It is reputedly the most romantic spot in the city, and on warm summer nights when couples, hand in hand, stroll by its cascading, shimmering waters bathed in the soft glow of the gas light, you can see why. The romantic, nostalgic feel of this fountain is eternal, and it sparks the same tender feelings in many throughout the entire year.”—Page 111

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I would, however, recommend taking this stroll to the Fountain Court in the daylight hours. One of Old Louisville’s most renowned ghosts, the Widow Hoag, is waiting for the return of her Air Force son who died fighting in the Pacific during World War II. The body was never found, and until the day she died, Mrs. Hoag was certain that someday, her son would return to her. Many believe that the spirit of Mrs. Hoag is still at Fountain Court, not even aware that she has passed away – her ghost exists in denial, still sure that her son is going to come home, and that life will go on just as it was before. There is hope that Widow Hoag will find peace someday, if her spirit can ever reunite with the spirit of her son.

“Until then, her saddened spirit will have to lurk in the shadows of quiet Fountain Court, sharing the cool, grassy spaces with the living while life goes on.”—Page 114

“Located on the northern fringes of the University of Louisville campus, the J.B. Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum, with over 12,000 pieces in its holdings. The extensive collection spans 6,000 years and ranges from ancient Egyptian to contemporary art, and the galleries include seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings, eighteenth-century French art, Renaissance and Baroque tapestries, and significant pieces of contemporary American painting and sculpture as well. The Speed also houses portraits, sculptures, furniture and decorative arts by Kentucky artists and other noted works created specifically for Kentuckians… In addition to numerous collections of art, the Speed Art Museum also houses at least one ghost.”—Page 125

Well, that’s not something you can find just anywhere, huh? While there are several theories about the who or what is haunting the Speed Art Museum, one theory abounds over all the rest – Harriet “Hattie” Bishop Speed, the wife of the museum’s namesake, is our specter. By the time Hattie passed in 1942, she had become a legacy in the Old Louisville art circles, a pillar of the community, and an upstanding citizen. However, no one is perfect, and it is commonly believed that Hattie suffered from one ugly flaw: jealousy. While Hattie was happily married to James Breckinridge Speed for six years, she was his second wife. His first wife, Cora A. Coffin, had borne James Speed two children, and after she died, she left a void in his life that his new wife often felt inadequate to fill. It seems odd, to have a rivalry with a dead woman, but perhaps Hattie Speed founded the museum as a memorial to her husband, as a final one-up on Cora Coffin, proving that she had loved him more.

If you’re a little unnerved by hanging out with a jealous spirit, never fret; the Speed Art Museum is offering SPEED ONLINE, a way to celebrate art from the safety and comfort of your own home. However, if you’re wanting to perhaps walk the museum proper, see if you can feel a cold chill or smell rosewater perfume, the museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

“Does Miss Hattie still continue her nightly visits to check on the progress of the museum she founded over seventy-five years ago?”—Pages 128-129

I guess it’s up to you to find out.

“Anyone at all familiar with Louisville has heard about the infamous tuberculosis sanatorium at Waverly Hills in the city’s south end – and the countless stories of hauntings and strange events surrounding it. A titanic four-story, art-deco masterpiece with more than four hundred rooms at one time, it sits alone and abandoned, looming over Dixie Highway while the ravages of time take their toll. For more than twenty years it has stood empty and waiting while inclement weather destroys the roof and exposes its delicate interior to the elements, while thoughtless vandals and hoodlums add to the damage, and a derelict landlord and a community largely indifferent to its plight sat back and watched it slip further from the grasp of restoration, all seemingly oblivious to the important piece of Louisville history decaying in front of them.”—Page 178

Whether you’re native to Louisville or just the state of Kentucky in general, Waverly Hills is a familiar if unsettling name. It is a location known for its hauntings and has been the subject of several paranormal TV shows that explore abandoned locations. Normally, at this time of year, Waverly Hills is hosting an annual Haunted House Fundraiser in order to keep the historic location up and running. Due to the pandemic, that isn’t an option this year – but if you still want to have an authentic experience, Waverly Hills is offering Haunted Halloween Guided Tours! Tickets can be bought online, offered through Halloween, and they are also offering a paranormal investigation on Halloween night! Perhaps you’ve noticed that I haven’t offered up too many stories about Waverly Hills, as opposed to Fountain Court and the Speed Museum. Maybe, that’s because I want you to go and experience a story for yourself.

If the beautifully written and chilling excerpts shared here have sparked your interest, you can go to our website at and pick up Ghosts of Old Louisville: True Stories of Hauntings in America’s Largest Victorian Neighborhood by David Dominé. There are plenty of historic, gorgeous, and haunting locations in the text to be explored, places you can read about and then see for yourself. As said in one of my favorite movies: “Life’s no fun without a good scare.”

Happy Halloween from the University Press of Kentucky!

Preparing for the Kentucky Derby: Kentucky Press Style

Unfortunately, due to the circumstances of the United States, the Kentucky Derby has been pushed back until September 5th. This gives everyone plenty of time to prepare for the day and make it the best Derby celebration so far! Whether you’re a native Kentuckian looking to spice up your Derby day party or someone new to the festivities, these books will help you prepare.

WHICH FORK DO I USE WITH MY BOURBON? by Peggy Noe Stevens & Susan Reigler

UPK has many books that can help spice up your Derby day celebrations. WHICH FORK DO I USE WITH MY BOURBON? has an entire section dedicated to the Kentucky Derby and can help make the food, drink, and decorations go above and beyond. This is the perfect party-planning book. As well as offering step by step recipes for food and drinks, Stevens and Reigler give expert tips and tricks on everything you could need. They bring bourbon country to your table with this cookbook inspired by the different hosting traditions of five different distilleries.

“If there were two people I would turn to for help with bourbon and food, they would be Peggy and Susan. Individually, their knowledge and experience are impressive, but together, their collective depth and wisdom are staggering. Put your faith in this duo and let them help you entertain, amaze, and blow minds in a style worthy of Kentucky’s hospitality-rich and bourbon-drenched history. This book should be a shelf staple for any self-respecting bourbon fan.”

Rob Allanson, managing editor of American Whiskey magazine
THE KENTUCKY MINT JULEP by Colonel Joe Nickell

Are you more of a lay back on the couch with a drink while watching the Derby person? Then the cocktail book, THE KENTUCKY MINT JULEP, can help you perfect that iconic Derby day drink or any other drink you desperately want to try. More than just a recipe book, THE KENTUCKY MINT JULEP dives into the lore and legend of the famous drink. It also shares insight into garnishing and serving as well as choosing the right julep cup.

One of our many Derby books is SPECTACULAR BID, which details the life of almost Triple Crown winner Spectacular Bid. A safety pin was the only thing that kept him from winning the Belmont Stakes, where he finished third due to the injury to his hoof.


For all the history fans out there, UPK has an astounding array of history books about the Derby. Read about Sir Barton and how he was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in SIR BARTON AND THE MAKING OF THE TRIPLE CROWN. With multiple English and American winners in his pedigree, Sir Barton was destined to shine from the start. His wins inspired the ultimate chase for greatness in American horse racing and established an elite group that would grow to include legends like Citation, Secretariat, and American Pharoah.

THE KENTUCKY DERBY is full of the culture and history behind the derby, from its humble beginnings as a variation of England’s Epsom Derby to America’s “greatest two minutes in sports”. No other American past time is as full of pageantry, history, or tradition as the Kentucky Derby. For more than 130 years, spectators have been fascinated by the magnificent horses that run the Louisville track.

Though we’re all wishing the Derby was sooner rather than later, these books can fill the Derby-sized hole in your heart. Kick back with a Derby inspired meal and drink, or settle in your favorite chair with a Triple Crown winner.