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November 2007

Release Date: November 5, 2007

Civil War Book Wins Literary Prize for ASU Historian

Dr. Brian D. McKnight, a member of the Angelo State University history faculty, has been named recipient of the 2007 Dr. James I. Robertson Jr. Literary Prize for Confederate History for his book, Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia.

The award was established in 2000 to honor Robertson, a civil war scholar and the Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, for his contributions and teaching in the field of Civil War and Confederate history. The award carries with it a $1,000 prize.

Published last year by the University Press of Kentucky, 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.”

Location and a wealth of resources made the Kentucky-Virginia border strategically important to both sides in the conflict and both armies fought to control the region. McKnight chronicled how military invasion of this region led to increasing guerrilla warfare and how regular armies and state militias punished communities along partisan lines, leaving wounds long after the official end of the Civil War.

The book has received uniformly good reviews. Civil War Times called Contested Borderland “engaging and eminently readable. . . . A compelling account of an isolated world turned upside down by a war fought over issues few of its residents understood or cared much about.”

The American Historical Review called the book “comprehensive” and said “McKnight adeptly juggles the military, social, and political complexities of this border war in a meticulously documented and often compelling narrative.”

The Journal of Military History said Contested Borderland “amply supplies the reader with an enjoyable and informational read that attempts to bridge a gap in Civil War history.”