Customer Reviews for

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Very recommended as an introduction to American cultural history

Colin Woodard presents what could be very dense cultural history in a succinct and informative fashion. The information is presented chronologically, for the most part, jumping between what he identifies as the cultural nations of North America within certain time perio...
Colin Woodard presents what could be very dense cultural history in a succinct and informative fashion. The information is presented chronologically, for the most part, jumping between what he identifies as the cultural nations of North America within certain time periods. Organization is generally top-notch in this book. For that matter, I learned a plethora of little known facts about American history of which I was previously unaware. Woodard makes a strong case for his thesis, but with mixed results. The smooth wording masks a slimmer bibliography than more scholarly texts on this subject, and this work is in some ways a more reader-friendly sequel to David Hackett Fischer's 'Albion's Seed' (this is acknowledged by Woodard). Similarly, the thesis breaks down a bit with regard to the late nineteenth century alliance of Appalachia and the Deep South, as well as the shift from religious to secular cultural dominance in Yankeedom. These holes are significant enough to make the reader question the central thesis of American nations remaining relatively static from their foundation to the present. A future edition of the book may address these issues. In short, this is a must-read for those new to American History, cultural history, or as a pleasant way to learn about North America's past. Colin Woodard is not an academic historian, however, so those looking for a more authoritative treatment of this material may want to look elsewhere.

posted by Skipper7009 on December 6, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The author has an interesting thesis. But, he has undercut it b

The author has an interesting thesis. But, he has undercut it by making the mistake of analyzing past events using todays cultural attitudes. He further diminishes his anlysis by passing moral judgement based on his own cultural biases. This could have been an import...
The author has an interesting thesis. But, he has undercut it by making the mistake of analyzing past events using todays cultural attitudes. He further diminishes his anlysis by passing moral judgement based on his own cultural biases. This could have been an important work but is instead mediocre due to a lack of discipline by the author.

posted by StephenJon on June 15, 2012

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Very recommended as an introduction to American cultural history

    Colin Woodard presents what could be very dense cultural history in a succinct and informative fashion. The information is presented chronologically, for the most part, jumping between what he identifies as the cultural nations of North America within certain time periods. Organization is generally top-notch in this book. For that matter, I learned a plethora of little known facts about American history of which I was previously unaware. Woodard makes a strong case for his thesis, but with mixed results. The smooth wording masks a slimmer bibliography than more scholarly texts on this subject, and this work is in some ways a more reader-friendly sequel to David Hackett Fischer's 'Albion's Seed' (this is acknowledged by Woodard). Similarly, the thesis breaks down a bit with regard to the late nineteenth century alliance of Appalachia and the Deep South, as well as the shift from religious to secular cultural dominance in Yankeedom. These holes are significant enough to make the reader question the central thesis of American nations remaining relatively static from their foundation to the present. A future edition of the book may address these issues. In short, this is a must-read for those new to American History, cultural history, or as a pleasant way to learn about North America's past. Colin Woodard is not an academic historian, however, so those looking for a more authoritative treatment of this material may want to look elsewhere.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 3, 2011

    Very interesting- great insight

    I haven't finished reading it, but it is the first non-fiction book that I cannot put down. It is very interesting, easy to read, and has really helped me to better understand the different cultures all over our country. Only negative about the Nook version- maps are hard to read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Critical book to understanding U.S. politics

    This book is 1) brilliant, and 2) a key to understanding the cultural differences in the United States that have expressed themselves in national politics. Seeing the source of each of the 11 nations and the philosophy of life the various populations brought with them into their area of the country is highly revealing. It explains why "swing states" exist: because they comprise two opposing cultural viewpoints within the same state jurisdiction, and the one more in favor is the one that carries that state at the time of any given election.
    One of the most salient points it revealed to me is why Yankeedom and the Deep South will never agree on race, states' rights v. federal oversight or on submitting to each other in these and other areas. The deep cultural roots of borderline cultures that have always been at war with nations on the other side of the border are pervasive still, even though those cultures now exist side by side in America and are not physically or politically challenged by any other national entities. Some of the nations' cultures think an enlightened federal government should lead the nation; others think that they should be left alone and not have anyone tell them what to do. The 2012 presidential and Congressional elections are completely understandable in the light of Woodard's definitions of the 11 cultures and the continuing outrage of the right after Obama's re-election. Four years they could handle as a fluke, but eight years is a sea change, and they will not have it. This book is remarkably revealing of things that you may have had an intuitive sense about but never knew the exact reasons for. This book tells you the reasons. It is highly enlightening and a projection of whether the U.S. can stay together as a republic or will break up into regional political units.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2012

    The author has an interesting thesis. But, he has undercut it b

    The author has an interesting thesis. But, he has undercut it by making the mistake of analyzing past events using todays cultural attitudes. He further diminishes his anlysis by passing moral judgement based on his own cultural biases. This could have been an important work but is instead mediocre due to a lack of discipline by the author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 29, 2012

    A FASCINATING BOOK--A MUST READ

    FOLLOWS THE MIGRATION OF EARLY AMERICANS THROUGH PRESENT DAY--THEIR CONCEPTS OF GOVERNMENT,COMMUNITY,HOPES FOR FUTURE,LIVELIHOODS AND THE IMPACT OF THEIR CONCEPTS ON PRESENT DAY GOVERNMENT AND POLICY. WOODWARD'S WRITING STYLE IS AJOY.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    I’m only a fourth of the way along but it is wonderful so far. The author highlights revealing, human facts about the founders of our culture. His assessment of the politics, history and demographics is concise and informative.

    I find that I’m eager to resume my reading sessions.

    Bill Lyon

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2011

    Enlightening book

    "American Nations" puts American history in perspective in order of occurance and reasoning of the people of the time. It shows the politics of the day has carried over into the present.
    Everyone should read this book. It clears up common misconceptions many people have about American history and shows you people and politics have not changed that much.
    The book was easy to read and interesting. I want to read it again more slowly. It reads almost like a novel and makes you want to find out the ending! I want to pay more attention to the details next read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2011

    Highly Recommended - A great analysis of the American Culture

    An excellent analysis of the American psyche and culture. The book blends the cultural times and historical events that have formed and continue to form the varying American ideals found in different parts of the United States. The book is an easy read and it tells the story of who we are are as Americans.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Compelling read -- couldn't put it down.

    The ideas put forth in this book I found fascinating. Woodard makes a compelling connection between our history as a nation and our current political angst.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Not for the "my group is right"

    Will definitely cause you to rethink history and the founding of the country. Far more than just the British tale.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    This is a fascinating study on cultural differences between diff

    This is a fascinating study on cultural differences between different regions of North America, and how they don't necessarily agree with State lines. Dialect aficionados will enjoy this a great deal. However, where the center cannot hold in this work is when Woodard tries to set up an argument for good versus evil based on stereotypes from the Civil War era. The idea which he wants us to fight is actually a great deal more pervasive in this country than he believes it to be. As a student of diaspora he should be aware of this. The idea is that a few decide to grow rich on the coerced cheap labor of the many, and there is not a state in the union that hasn't indulged in it at some point in history, though the Deep South's example is the most obvious and arguably the most egregious example. The idea is embedded in corporate culture in this country even now, and it is everywhere in the culture. Woodard seems to believe that defeating one regional subculture in this country will defeat the idea. I think he has come to a dangerously naive conclusion there. You have to confront this idea directly to defeat it. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    If we were to draw a far more accurate map of the United States

    This would be an excellent blueprint. Reading Woodard's detailed and well-researched book will permanently alter the way you view American history and the politics of any time period, right up to the present. For example, have you ever wondered why, in presidential elections, Ohio is a swing state, but neighboring Indiana and Michigan are reliably Republican and Democratic? After understanding the backgrounds and underlying biases of each nation, it will make sense with a quick glance at Woodard's map. The same goes for explaining California's internal divisions, and why "Yankeedom" and the "Deep South" have never seen eye-to-eye, and likely never will. A highly recommended read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Good and Bad

    At first, very informative and enlightening with regard to North America's ethnoregional history, but unfortunately the author continued to develop a rant against modern conservatism with ever increasing intensity. By the end of chapter 28, he is practically screaming his dislike for anyone with conservative views, while simultaneously promoting liberalism. Hardly objective. I would have enjoyed the book much more had the author been neutral when dealing with idiologies. Such a disappointment!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2013

    The colonies plain and clear

    An overview of the national regions that doesn't hide the warts,reveals some basic
    Prejudices and clarifies a lot of current blue/red biases. Written in strong declarative style.
    Highly recommended especially for political buffs.

    CWM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Fascinating look at America

    I am only about halfway through the book. I really like it but I need to read it when I have very few distractions. An old friend from my college days recommended it. I have learned so much that I didn't know. I feel like I should take notes so I can remember the specifics of each nation within the nation. This is one book that I wish I had a "real" book instead of an ereader version. I want to write in it. But I will be proud to lend this book to my Nook contacts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Decent

    Not back - but very simplistic. Better a paper or a lecture. Tries to force concepts into too many historic situations. But can be a decent reference.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

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