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With so much history and so many monumental historical figures calling it home, Virginia and its citizens have been written about and filmed countless times. This is especially true of the Civil War.

The Commonwealth also has made its mark on the music scene -- and not just because The Dave Mathews Band calls Charlottesville home. Country music as we know it today was born in hollows and valleys of the Southwest Highlands.

Nonfiction

  • Mary Chestnut's Civil War edited by C. Van Woodward (Yale University Press). Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography of a Richmond housewife who kept a diary during the Civil War.
  • Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Portrait by Fawn M. Brodie (Norton). Readable account of the third president.
  • Jefferson and His Times by Dumas Malone (Little, Brown). Exhaustive study of Mr. Jefferson.
  • Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed (The University of Virginia Press). Explores the affair between Jefferson and his slave.
  • The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (Norton). Traces descendants of Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
  • Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman (Macmillan). Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
  • Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (Doubleday). The Virginia-born African American tells how he went from slavery to agricultural scientist.
  • George Washington by Douglas Southall Freeman (Macmillan). Father of his country explained.
  • Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson (Norton). Eighteenth-century Virginia through the eyes of its famous son.
  • Virginia, The New Dominion by Virginius Dabney (University Press of Virginia). Definitive history of the Old Dominion up to 1971.
  • The Civil War by Shelby Foote (Vintage). Slow-talking Foote became famous appearing in Ken Burns' monumental video series .
  • The Civil War by Geoffrey C. Ward, with Ric Burns and Ken Burns (Knopf). Don't have time for the series? Read this off-shoot book.
  • Witness to Appomattox by Richard Wheeler (HarperCollins). Recaptures Lee's surrender in 1865.

Fiction

  • Traveller by Richard Adams (Dell). About General Lee's horse.
  • Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (Bantam). A must-read for Civil War buffs.
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (Bantam). Based on Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831.

Films & Videos

  • Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1937), with Fred MacMurray, Henry Fonda, and Sylvia Sidney, is based on John Fox's romantic tale set in an Appalachian mining village.
  • Brother Rat (1938), with Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, depicts cadet life at the Virginia Military Institute.
  • Dirty Dancing (1987), with Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze; filmed at Mountain Lake Resort.
  • Sommersby (1993), with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere; filmed in Lexington, Warm Springs, and Bath County.
  • The Civil War, PBS series, Time-Life. Ken Burns' epic telling of the great tragedy.

Music

Nashville may be the modern capital of country music, but its purest forms -- Blue Grass, Old Time, and Traditional -- trace their roots to the mountains of Virginia.

Indeed, southwestern Virginia has been central to the evolution of country music since the first European settlers arrived in these hills and valleys with few possessions other than their mandolins and fiddles. Some of the great country artists hail from here -- the Carter Family, Ralph Stanley, and the Stonemans, to name a few -- and numerous music festivals such as the famous Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Galax take place in this area.

The area's music heritage is formally recognized by The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, P.O. Box 268, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219 (tel. 866/676-6847; www.thecrookedroad.org).

This official route follows U.S. 23, U.S. 421, U.S. 58, U.S. 221, Va. 8, and Va. 40 for more than 200 miles from Breaks in the west to Rocky Mount in the east. Along the way it passes such country music shrines as the Ralph Stanley Museum & Traditional Music Center in Clintwood; the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons; the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol; the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway; the Rex Theater in Galax; the Floyd Country Store in Floyd; and the Blue Ridge Music Institute in Ferrum.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.