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American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America | [Colin Woodard]

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

North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory. In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent....
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Publisher's Summary

An illuminating history of North America's 11 rival cultural regions that explodes the red state/blue state myth.

North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent, each staking out mutually exclusive territory.

In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent and the rivalries and alliances between its component nations, which conform to neither state nor international boundaries. He illustrates and explains why "American" values vary sharply from one region to another.

Woodard reveals how intranational differences have played a pivotal role at every point in the continent's history, from the American Revolution and the Civil War to the tumultuous sixties and the "blue county/red county" maps of recent presidential elections. American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America's myriad identities and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and are molding our future.

©2011 Colin Woodward (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

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

"Woodard explains away partisanship in American Nations... which makes the provocative claim that our culture wars are inevitable. North America was settled by groups with distinct political and religious value - and we haven't had a moment's peace since." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (643 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-03-14
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-03-14

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Of course, Of course!"

    Wow! This is one of those books after which you never look at things quite the same way again. And, oh, it all makes so much sense!

    I'm sure there are experts who would question whether this is exactly the number of "American Nations" or the precise boundaries and variances within each district. However, the weight of historical fact and intuitive "rightness" of this general theory is, in my view, absolutely undeniable. So much of what puzzles us in the disagreements and different philosophies of America's regions is explained forcibly and persuasively by Colin Woodard.

    All of the regions display good and appalling mindsets and inclinations in this description - no one escapes scathing criticism for actions throughout American history. Naturally, there are sweeping generalizations and stereotypes involved in presenting such a thesis, but I found myself often smacking myself on the forehead (figuratively speaking, mostly) and expostulating: "Oh, of course! of course!"

    I'll never forget this book - it will come to mind especially at Election time. I recommend it highly for anyone from any region. You may not agree with it all, but you won't deny it offers intelligent insight into much of America's past and present - and probably foretells the future all too well!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    annhere Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 05-14-14
    annhere Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 05-14-14 Member Since 2015

    Ann.

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    "FASCINATING AND SCARY!"

    This is a small work that packs a great deal of history. As one on the outside looking in, I never could understand why the U.S. government is so dysfunctional. Now I know. President Obama was right when he said, “We are not a red state and a blue state”, but wrong when he said, “we are the united states of America”. According to this author, the U.S. is made up of a number of “nations” so diametrically opposed to each other that they just can’t find a way to get along. Being of Scottish, Irish and French descent, I’ve always known that my Scots/Irish ancestors were a wild bunch, but, heavens to betsy, they sure have made a mess throughout history in the U.S. Between ethnic tensions, religion, racial discrimination and greed, it’s hard to see how U.S. citizens can untangle themselves from the knotted skein that is throttling them.

    I listened to this book almost non-stop and was very sorry when it came to an end. The narrator could have read a little slower as there was so much I wanted to savor. I will listen to it again very soon.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana PORT ANGELES, WA, United States 09-10-14
    Diana PORT ANGELES, WA, United States 09-10-14 Member Since 2010
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    "I loved this book"
    Would you listen to American Nations again? Why?

    Yes I did listen to most of twice.


    Any additional comments?

    It seemed to me a great examination of the cultures of America.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob 08-07-14
    Rob 08-07-14 Member Since 2013

    Cellar Door

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    "Excellent, unique look at American History"

    It takes a great deal to impress me with a book on American history. American Nations did that, both with its scope and accessibility. It truly provides an idiosyncratic take on the development of the United States (and to a lesser extent Canada and Mexico). The narration is also quite clear and engaging.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TM 06-09-14
    TM 06-09-14

    TJM

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    "Thought Provoking Ideas - Dry Narration"
    Any additional comments?

    The author proposes that many of the cultural rifts in modern America (, Mexico and Canada) can be traced back to the collective mindsets of the original European settlers.

    I was pretty much convinced by his arguments - in that there is at least a historical influence along the lines of what he describes.

    It is at the very least a substantial book with much food for thought.

    Walter Dixon's narration is very clear, but a bit dry for my tastes. I understand that the material is academic, but having seen the author speak I think he might have added a bit more color if he had narrated it himself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 05-27-14
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 05-27-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A re-framing of North American history."
    Any additional comments?

    Sociology, history, demography, psychology. It is frustratingly difficult to decipher the fact from the interpretation. There is a lot I liked here. Some very thoughtful analysis. Some interesting assertions and added color to historical cannon. This made of lot of sense to me, it backstopped some long held beliefs, it made me feel good about my heritage and my place sociological makeup of the continent. But I fear that is because I have affiliated heritage to the author and he is projecting the same bias I grew up with. I liked this book, and it earns its stars by at least attempting to explain and perhaps unencumber us from our political trenches. To see the cultures that shaped (and divided) us, accept them and move forward rather than dig in. I don't know if Colin Woodard is correct in his analysis, but I think if read with the knowledge of the authorial bias in mind it is still valuable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas R. Henderson Asheville NC 02-27-14
    Nicholas R. Henderson Asheville NC 02-27-14 Member Since 2006

    Adam Smith

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    "Starts well, goes commie later"
    What would have made American Nations better?

    I thought it started out as an interesting idea. The author was doing pretty well early in the book, but when he got to the South, he started the typical socialistic bull and slimed us pretty thoroughly. NICE! So, if you are a liberal from Yankee land or a left coaster, read on, you'll love it. If you are a Southern Conservative, give it a pass.


    20 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edwin San Jose, CA, United States 02-06-14
    Edwin San Jose, CA, United States 02-06-14 Member Since 2013

    evh70

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    "Fascinating audio turns into Obama info-mercial"
    What disappointed you about American Nations?

    The concept of multiple nations within North America overlaying the boundaries of states was interesting and well told. I would have given this audio book about 4 stars if I had stopped before the last quarter of the book. At this point Woodard turned his narrative into an info-mercial for the hard-left. "Republicans are aligned with the Deep South nation (the nation with the most lethal, violent, and egregious slavery practices and the most stratified social structure). They (Republican) are racists and seek to deny health care and hot meals to poor children. Their agenda is to maximize tax breaks to the wealthy and deny services to the 99%." I paraphrase, but you get the idea. If I want to read or listen to this drivel, I can get it for free on the Huffington Post or MSNBC. What a shame, because the first 75% was so good.


    What was most disappointing about Colin Woodard’s story?

    Water carrying for the hard-left. Slandering of the right.


    Have you listened to any of Walter Dixon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    What character would you cut from American Nations?

    The Obama sock puppet.


    26 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 04-23-14
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 04-23-14

    Acteon

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    "A 6-star book, not to be missed."
    If you could sum up American Nations in three words, what would they be?

    Illuminating, stimulating, indispensable


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book made me understand America as never before (and I have read or listened to more than one book on American history).


    Which character – as performed by Walter Dixon – was your favorite?

    The question is not really appropriate, but if I had to answer, it would be William Penn who founded Pennsylvania. Walter Dixon is an excellent reader.


    Any additional comments?

    I heartily recommend this book to anyone with any interest interest in America, and even to those who don't think they do. More than any other book I know or indeed imagined possible, it sheds light on what America is and how it came to be. The opportunity to read (listen to) this book is itself reason enough for me to feel thankful to be alive in 2014.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Tishuk 11-19-13
    Evan Tishuk 11-19-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Connects a lot of dots"
    Would you listen to American Nations again? Why?

    Yes, there's plenty of meat on the bone for a second listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It provides a framework from which to understand many peculiarities of culture that separate the various "nations" of America. I think it can provide a more rational way of understanding some of the deeply rooted differences that tend to exasperate without proper context.


    Any additional comments?

    If I were to level a criticism, it would be that Woodard gets a bit too personal at the end of the book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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