Tag Archives: My Old Kentucky Home

#UPWeek The Importance of Regional Publishing: Because Nobody Understands Kentucky Like We Do

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All week, we’ve been celebrating University Press Week and sharing with all of you what it means to be a University Press and what makes UPs so great. One of the subjects we’re best known for is a subject closest to all of our hearts: Kentucky. Our regional books editor, Ashley Runyon, is a born-and-bred Bluegrass Girl. For University Press Week, we asked her to share why Regional Publishing is so important both to her and to the Press. Herewith, Ashley’s take on UPK’s regional publishing program, and a few reasons why we love our state.

Kentucky is home. As a toddler, I was first pictured in my University of Kentucky Wildcats cheerleading outfit rooting for the Big Blue. But the Bluegrass State is more than just basketball. Or bourbon. Or horses. It is the experiences and stories of people and places throughout the region that define what makes Kentucky great.

As a publisher of regional books, we are in a unique position to offer an exciting and inviting look at Kentucky’s history, heritage, and community. Offering more than just a chronicle of Kentucky’s past, we have the opportunity to engage, enlighten, and entertain. In the past year alone, we have shown Kentuckians the best places in the state to travel to for barbecue, bourbon, gems, and ghosts, revealed one of the best but forgotten jockeys, taught our readers how to make the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail, and offered a comprehensive look at the inner workings of government and politics in Frankfort and beyond. The tradition of the Bluegrass State is wide and far-reaching. Every week I learn something new about my home state and I hope we also offer that to our readers.

Regional publishing showcases the many truths of our region and community, whether it be The Good: A vibrant writing community, love and appreciation of the land. The Bad: The Louisville Cardinals (Go Big Blue!). And the Ugly: Poverty, prevalent drugs, and a poor education system. It is our job to tell the stories of our state.

The heritage of Kentucky is rich and it has been our privilege to enrich our community for the past 70 years.

Why do we publish books about Kentucky? …Because nobody understands Kentucky like we do.

Because we love that there are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky.

More Bourbon Barrels than People

And we love to drink it! (even our beer tastes like bourbon)

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Because it is perfectly acceptable to call into work to go bet on the horses at Keeneland or Churchill Downs

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Because NOBODY is a bigger basketball fan than we are. (We still can’t believe the UK-UL game in the 2012 Final Four didn’t result in the apocalypse)

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Because speaking of the apocalypse…Berea, Kentucky is the safest place to be

Zombies Ahead

Because in Kentucky, you can visit Paris, Rome, Bagdad, Bethlehem, Cuba, Sweeden, London, and Versailles (pronounced Ver-sales) in a day. Or towns like Monkey’s Eyebrow, Possum Trot, Big Bone Lick, Bugtussle, Oddville, Rabbit Hash, Shoulderblade, or Pig.

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Because we know its Loo-uh-vuhl, not Louie-vill

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Because one-half of the most infamous feud in America were Kentuckians

Because we were the original Land of Lincoln (sorry Illinois!)

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Because along with Lincoln, we claim Muhammed Ali, George Clooney (all the Clooneys, really), Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Diane Sawyer, and a hell of a lot more writers (Robert Penn Warren), Politicians (Henry Clay), Musicians (including the Judd family and 2/5 of the Backstreet Boys), Scientists (Robert H. Grubbs), Athletes (Tyson Gay), Artists (John James Audobon), and Chicken Impresarios (Col. Harlan Sanders)

George Clooney

Because we’re well-fed on BBQ, fried chicken, and doughnuts

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Because even our madams are (in)famous

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Because its hard not to tear up every time this happens before the Kentucky Derby

Because, as former Governor Happy Chandler said, I Never Met A Kentuckian Who Wasn’t Either Thinking About Going Home Or Actually Going Home.”

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Your Call to Post: It’s Derby Time!

This Saturday marks the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” There are few other Kentucky traditions that fully encompass what it is to live in or visit the Bluegrass State. The Derby has it all: beautiful horses, the twin spires in the background, roses, hats, mint juleps, and of course who doesn’t get chills at the Call to Post and the playing of My Old Kentucky Home during the post parade?

Herewith, a few of our favorite Derby-themed books:

The Thoroughbred Horse has an unparalleled significance to the state of Kentucky. The breeding, training, selling, and racing of these remarkable animals today amounts to a multibillion dollar sporting business, and the development of that industry serves as a compelling history of both the state and the Sport of Kings itself. The Kentucky Thoroughbred tells that story, chronicling racing’s history through tales of its most dominant, memorable stallions.

“Hollingsworth writes with authority and a good deal of polish about an exotic industry in which Kentucky has led the world for at least a century, and about equine feats that today’s horseplayers may find virtually incredible.”–Louisville Courier-Journal

In her debut book, How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders, former turf writer Maryjean Wall explores the post–Civil War world of Thoroughbred racing, before the Bluegrass region reigned supreme as the unofficial Horse Capital of the World. Wall uses her insider knowledge of horse racing as a foundation for an unprecedented examination of the efforts to establish a Thoroughbred industry in late-nineteenth-century Kentucky. How Kentucky Became Southern offers an accessible inside look at the Thoroughbred industry and its place in Kentucky history.

“When the nation’s attention focuses on Churchill Downs again next spring and Louisville turns on the charm, we will now know . . . what exactly it is what we’re drinking to when we raise that first mint julep.”–Wall Street Journal

Thanks in part to the general popularity of cocktails and the marketing efforts of the bourbon industry, there are more brands of bourbon and more bourbon drinkers than ever before. In The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler provide a reader-friendly handbook featuring more than 100 recipes including seasonal drinks, after-dinner bourbon cocktails, Derby cocktails, and even medicinal toddies.

“Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler showcase the world of bourbon in a reader-friendly format, highlighting techniques, ingredients, food selection, and glassware for the professional or home bartender. . . . Everyone, from the bourbon connoisseur to the amateur enthusiast, can appreciate this how-to guide, which embraces the rich heritage and sophistication of a true Kentucky classic.”--Kentucky Post


Lighthearted, entertaining, and informative, The Kentucky Mint Julep explores the lore and legend of the Kentucky Derby’s traditional tipple.Information on julep cups, tips on garnishing and serving, and reminiscences from the likes of Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, and General John Hunt Morgan give a fun, historic look at Kentucky’s favorite drink. The book includes numerous recipes—for classic juleps, modern variations, non-alcoholic versions, and the author’s own thoroughly researched “perfect” mint julep.

“Mint, syrup, bourbon. Horse-racing fans instantly recognize those ingredients for a mint julep, the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. The book has more than 20 recipes. . . . It’s definitely a book to read before you buy silver julep cups.”– New York Times


In Kentucky Horse Country: Images of the Bluegrass, renowned photographer James Archambeault captures the natural beauty of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region and the thoroughbred industry for which it is famous. Kentucky Horse Country contains 165 full-color images, from tender scenes of mares and foals grazing, to the excitement of race day at Keeneland, to gorgeous landscapes of white fences enclosing lush rolling hills.

“Internationally renowned photographer James Archambeault has done it again—captured the beauty of our state with his lens and preserved it within the pages of a coffee-table book that any Kentuckian would be proud to own, or place under the Christmas tree for some other fortunate reader.”–The Voice- Tribune