Stretching westward from deep in the Appalachian Mountains to the waters of the Mississippi River that drain the center of the United States lies Kentucky, the Land of Tomorrow. Kentucky was the nation's first extension of itself into the interior of the vast North American continent. As such, Kentucky became the restless heart of the growing, maturing United States. To kw Kentucky, its land, people, its civilization, its distinctive character and personality, takes time. Often, such things are t as they first seem. This is so for it is the state's numerous ironies and paradoxes that give the Commonwealth's way of life much of its meaning, power, vitality, wonder, and its great capacity to endure. The greatest of these ironies and paradoxes is that of the larger American civilization-the tension and ever shifting balance between the strong desire for expansive individual liberty and the need for community. This is the story of Kentucky, the nation's restless heart, and of its people's ongoing search for home and freedom, as seen through multiple prisms of irony and paradox.
James Larry Hood is Adjunct Professor at the University of Kentucky.