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

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

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by Colin Woodard
     
 

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An endlessly fascinating look at American regionalism and the eleven "nations" that continue to shape North America

According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the

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Overview

An endlessly fascinating look at American regionalism and the eleven "nations" that continue to shape North America

According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering a revolutionary and revelatory take on American identity, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and continue to mold our future. From the Deep South to the Far West, to Yankeedom to El Norte, Woodard reveals how each region continues to uphold its distinguishing ideals and identities today, with results that can be seen in the composition of the U.S. Congress or on the county-by-county election maps of presidential elections.

Editorial Reviews

The Christian Science Monitor
“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be….[A] fascinating new take on history.”
MaineBusiness.com
“Colin Woodard offers up an illuminating history of North America that explodes the red state-blue state myth.…Woodard’s American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America’s myriad identities, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our country’s past and mold its future.”
St. Louis Dispatch
“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading.…American Nations is important reading.”
The Portland Press Herald
American Nations by journalist-historian Colin Woodard is a superb book. Woodard makes a compelling argument that the United Sates was founded by contradictory regional convictions that continue to influence current attitudes and policy on a national level.…American Nations smashes the idea of political borders.…There is much to grapple with in this well-written book.”
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction

“Mr. Woodard’s approach is breezier than Mr. Fischer’s and more historical than Mr. Garreau’s, but he has earned a place on the shelf between them." — The Wall Street Journal

“[C]ompelling and informative.” — The Washington Post

“[A] fascinating new ethnographic history of North America.”
Alec MacGillis, The New Republic

“Provocative reading.” — News and Observer

“[American Nations] sets itself apart by delving deep into history to trace our current divides to ethno-cultural differences that emerged during the country’s earliest settlement.” — The New Republic, Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2011

“Fascinating…Engrossing…In the end…[American Nations] is a smart read that feels particularly timely now, when so many would claim a mythically unified ‘founding Fathers’ as their political ancestors.” — The Boston Globe

“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be….[A] fascinating new take on history.”

The Christian Science Monitor

“Woodard offers a fascinating way to parse American (writ large) politics and history in this excellent book.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“Colin Woodard debunks the simplistic notion of Left Coast, red state, blues state and other broad-brush efforts to peg America’s differences.…American Nations pulls off the unlikely feat of both offering the tools for just such a broader, deeper understanding—and demonstrates why, in a larger sense, that effort is doomed.…The key to the book’s effectiveness is Woodard’s skill—and irreverence—in delving into history with no qualms about being both brisk and contrarian.…[I]n offering us a way to better understand the forces at play in the rumpus room of current American politics, Colin Woodard has scored a true triumph. I am going to order copies for my father and sister immediately—and I hope Woodard gets a wide hearing for his fascinating study.” — The Daily Beast

“Provocative.” — Publishers Weekly

“[W]ell-researched analysis with appeal to both casual and scholarly readers.” — Library Journal

“Colin Woodard offers up an illuminating history of North America that explodes the red state-blue state myth.…Woodard’s American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America’s myriad identities, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our country’s past and mold its future.” — MaineBusiness.com

“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading.…American Nations is important reading.” — St. Louis Dispatch

“[I]f you want to better understand U.S. politics, history, and culture American Nations is to be required reading.…By revealing this continent of rivals, American Nations will revolutionize the way Americans think about their past, their country, and themselves and is sure to spark controversy.” — The Herald Gazette

American Nations by journalist-historian Colin Woodard is a superb book. Woodard makes a compelling argument that the United Sates was founded by contradictory regional convictions that continue to influence current attitudes and policy on a national level.…American Nations smashes the idea of political borders.…There is much to grapple with in this well-written book.” — The Portland Press Herald

Alec MacGillis
…a compelling and informative attempt to make sense of the regional divides in North America in general and this country in particular. This may seem like well-marked territory…But Woodard sets his political geography apart by delving deep into history, building on the insights of David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed, a 1989 analysis of the four "British folkways" in America, to demonstrate that trends in contemporary political behavior can be traced back to well before the country's founding. Woodard provides a bracing corrective to an accepted national narrative that too often overlooks regional variations to tell a simpler and more reassuring story.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Historian and journalist Woodward's new take on American history identifies the original cultural settlements that became the United States, and proceeds with the thesis that these regional and cultural divisions are responsible for clashes stretching back to Revolutionary times. The 11 nations don't follow state or even country territory lines, but rather the paths taken by the earliest settlers of these areas; while later immigrants added to the mix, they didn't change the fundamental culture. Woodward (The Republic of Pirates) uses this hypothesis to explain the Civil War, regional differences in education philosophies and voting patterns, even the disparate mentalities of northern and southern Californians. Concern for the future closes the book, citing "classic symptoms of an empire in decline": U.S. economic difficulties, "extreme political dysfunction," a politically divided population, and ongoing wars. Despite that pessimistic note, the book's compelling explanations and apt descriptions will fascinate anyone with an interest in politics, regional culture, or history.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Wall Street Journal
The New Republic Editors’ Pick

The Globalist Top Books of 2011
2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction

“Mr. Woodard’s approach is breezier than Mr. Fischer’s and more historical than Mr. Garreau’s, but [Woodard] has earned a place on the shelf between them."

The Washington Post
“[C]ompelling and informative.”
News and Observer
“Provocative reading.”
The Boston Globe
“Fascinating….Engrossing….In the end, though, [American Nations] is a smart read that feels particularly timely now, when so many would claim a mythically unified “Founding Fathers” as their political ancestors.”
The New Republic
“[American Nations] sets itself apart by delving deep into history to trace our current divides to enthno-cultural differences that emerged during the country’s earliest settlement.”

“In a compelling mash-up of the contemporary political geography of authors like Joel Garreau and Dante Chinni with the ethnography and history of David Hackett Finscher (Albion’s Seed), [Colin] Woodard divides North America into eleven distinct “nations”.

John Bruton
“One of the most original books I read in the last year was American Nations….During my five years as an Ambassador in the United States, I spent a lot of time studying the voting patterns of different states and reading American history, and I have to say I find Woodard’s thesis to be fully borne out by my own observations.”
Christian Science Monitor
“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be….[A] fascinating new take on history.”
The Portland Daily Dispatch
“Insightful.”
Military History Quarterly
“[Colin] Woodard persuasively argues that since the founding of the United States, 11 distinct geographical “nations” have formed within the Union, each with its own identity and set of values.”
Montana Kaimin
"[Colin] Woodard’s account of American history is a refreshing take, and one I’d recommend to those curious of what causes our cultural differences.”
Bill Bushnell
“[C]ontroversial and thought-provoking….This is an important sociological study.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading….American Nations is important reading.”

The Herald Gazette
“If you want to better understand U.S. politics, history, and culture American Nations is to be required reading….By revealing this continent of rivals, American Nations will revolutionize the way Americans think about their past, their country, and themselves and is sure to spark controversy.”
The Daily Beast
“Colin Woodard debunks the simplistic notion of Left Coast, red state, blues state and other broad-brush efforts to peg America’s differences….American Nations pulls off the unlikely feat of both offering the tools for just such a broader, deeper understanding—and demonstrates why, in a larger sense, that effort is doomed….The key to the [American Nations]’s effectiveness is Woodard’s skill—and irreverence—in delving into history with no qualms about being both brisk and contrarian….[I]n offering us a way to better understand the forces at play in the rumpus room of current American politics, Colin Woodard has scored a true triumph. I am going to order copies for my father and sister immediately—and I hope Woodard gets a wide hearing for his fascinating study.”
Library Journal
Journalist Woodard (The Republic of Pirates) takes a fresh approach to North America by reviewing the history and ethnography of its various regions. He includes Mexico and Canada in his study but focuses mainly on the United States. He splits the continent into Left Coast, Far West, El Norte, Greater Appalachia, Midlands, Deep South, Tidewater, New Netherland, Yankeedom, and New France, with the four most powerful northern "nations" forming a Northern Alliance and the four most powerful southern ones a Dixie Bloc. The cultural and political clashes between these two "superpowers," he convincingly argues, has shaped American history, with the other three "nations" serving as swing regions tipping the scale on issues ranging from slavery to foreign policy. The regional histories predictably focus on colonization, the American Revolution, western migration, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, but the surprisingly thorough and wide-ranging story brings readers through the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, offering an up-to-date study as viewed through this distinct ethnographic lens. VERDICT The argument that there is not one American identity but many is not new, but Woodard makes a worthwhile contribution by offering an accessible, well-researched analysis with appeal to both casual and scholarly readers.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Kirkus Reviews

Forget about the United States and Canada. The true nations of North America, writes historian and Christian Science Monitor foreign correspondent Woodard (The Republic of Pirates, 2007, etc.), have little to do with those artificialities.

Borrowing fruitful notions from Joel Garreau'sNine Nations of North America(1981) and David Hackett Fischer'sAlbion's Seed: Four British Folkways in North America(1989), Woodard traces the differences in America's regions to cultural, ethnic, religious and political differences among various strains of settlers, many of them long in play back in the British Isles. What he calls The Midlands, for instance, extends from the central Atlantic Seaboard deep into the Great Plains, encircling "Yankeedom" by taking in the southern tier of east-central Canada. These regions are the historical purview of, respectively, the Quakers of the English Midlands and the Puritans of England's eastern coast, with their distinct views of human nature and how government had to be organized to respond to it. Some of his "eleven stateless nations of North America" descend from these two regions, representing the old divide between moderate conservatism, with its "middle-class ethos and considerable respect for intellectual achievement," and moderate liberalism, with its view that "society should be organized to benefit ordinary people." Other regions, though, are the product of an English elite that mistrusted any government that presumed to tell them what to do, even though they descended from feudalism. Behold, then, the South, both the aristocratic piedmont of Virginia and North Carolina and the hardscrabble, God-haunted, fearful Deep South. The author connects these regional differences to deep divisions in American life, noting that the old struggle between those moderate forces has been supplanted by the rise of that Deep South, perfected in the 2000 election, when it "established simultaneous control over the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives for the first time in forty-six years."

Woodard offers a fascinating way to parse American (writ large) politics and history in this excellent book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143122029
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
42,073
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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