Kentucky's Uncommon Man
When Louis Gatewood Galbraith passed away in 2012, a flood of tributes merely scratched the surface of this "colorful" and controversial figure. Throughout his life and political career, regional, and national media outlets focused on the policy ideas and public acts that made Gatewood a cultural fixture: public demonstrations, an affinity for recreational drug use, unfiltered language, and recurring political campaigns. Best known as an advocate for the legalization of cannabis, second amendment rights, and smaller government, it's now quite easy to imagine this once quixotic platform finding traction in contemporary Kentucky politics.
In Gatewood: Kentucky's Uncommon Man, Matthew Strandmark weaves together personal stories, public records, and oral history interviews completed at the Louie B. Nunn Center to provide a comprehensive overview of the life and career of an eccentric and fascinating figure. From a childhood in Carlisle, Kentucky, replete with physical ailments to a young adulthood spent at the fringes of Lexington society, the opening chapters of Gatewood's life were vital in developing the values that came to define his later political career: namely, a passion for rural communities and a low tolerance for bullies. As a college dropout in the 1960s, Gatewood explored conventional and unconventional avenues of self-discovery before returning to the University of Kentucky, where he graduated law school and found his initial calling as an evangelist for cannabis legalization. An appetite for the spotlight and standing up for the little guy launched Gatewood into a 30-year career of perennial campaigning, groundbreaking legal cases, public activism throughout the Commonwealth—and friendships with celebrities including Woody Harrelson, Jack Herer, and Willie Nelson.
As an attorney, activist, author, father, friend, and opponent, Galbraith wore many hats (and not just his beloved fedora). This revealing biography features insightful conversations with Gatewood's family, colleagues, and community leaders, as well as commentary from public figures such as Paul E. Patton, Ernie Fletcher, Andy Barr, and Ben Chandler. The culmination of these narratives provide a richer and nuanced understanding of Gatewood: a generous, complicated, and flawed public figure who devoted his life to helping others - a legacy that will continue to resonate with Kentuckians for generations to come.