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October 2006

Release Date: October 19, 2006

New ASU History Professor Publishes Civil War Book

Contested Borderland, a book of Civil War history, has been published by new Angelo State University faculty member Brian D. McKnight of the History Department.

Published earlier this year by the University Press of Kentucky and subtitled "The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia," the book examines the impact of the struggle in a region generally overlooked by Civil War historians.

McKnight said the Appalachian residents of Kentucky and Virginia "for the entirety of the war, experienced a vicious, inglorious and incredibly dangerous conflict often brought to them on their doorsteps." His academic work explores this aspect of the Civil War through the public records and the personal letters and memoirs of the residents who lived through the period.

McKnight joined the ASU faculty earlier this year and will be responsible for teaching courses on 19 th Century America, including the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Gilded Age on through the Progressive Era. He holds a bachelor's from the University of Virginia's College at Wise, a master's degree from East Texas State University and a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, all in history.

In addition to Contested Borderland, he has published more than a dozen articles and entries in encyclopedias. He was editor-in-chief of Life and Culture in the Coal Towns of Wise County, Virginia, a community history project finished earlier this year.

His forthcoming book To Perish by the Sword: Champ Ferguson's Civil War will be the inaugural volume in the new Civil War series from the University Press of Kentucky. The new book disproves a conventional bit of Civil War history that Henry Wirz, the commandant of the infamous Andersonville Prison, was the only person executed for Civil War crimes. McKnight contends that Appalachian guerilla fighter Ferguson was also hanged for war crimes.