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
"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)
Game developer and VFX industry vet.
This book is simply outstanding from cover to cover. As someone is a rabid consumer of US history I'm left feeling like a sports fan who just realized he has been watching a game playing out his entire life and only now is recognizing who is on what team. This book is incredibly well researched and provides a deeply contextualized history of the US's many regional states and cultural paradigms. I really cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in politics or American history.
The well researched and written histories of the states and their ethnic origins creates a much more interesting narrative than the generic right/left debate we all believe we live in.
A political primer that isnt 20th century revisionist nonsense
Buy this book
If you have ever wondered why Americans seem destined to argue past each other on all matters politics, this book provides a plausible explanation. Sorry, those that disagree with you are not idiots, but were likely raised in a different "national" culture. Woodard presents American history and current political loggerheads through the lens of the cultures of the different groups who colonized and now populate North America.
Yes I did listen to most of twice.
It seemed to me a great examination of the cultures of America.
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.
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.
Illuminating, stimulating, indispensable
This book made me understand America as never before (and I have read or listened to more than one book on American history).
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.
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.
Yes, there's plenty of meat on the bone for a second listen.
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.
If I were to level a criticism, it would be that Woodard gets a bit too personal at the end of the book.
I've always had a theory similar to this swirling around in my mind, so it's great to see it laid out so well here. America being such a vast land mass, it only makes sense that different areas would be settled by people with different values. A strong case is made that the people who subsequently moved in felt comfortable with the established culture, and therefore reenforced it, rather than stirring the pot. As the book lays out, the dominant cultures in each area have endured over hundreds of years, and there are many parallels to modern regional struggles in each century since contact.
Not very flattering to the southern regions, and clearly quite liberal in his views, this author might not be your cup of tea if you are a social conservative. But I'm not, so I didn't have a problem with a few interjections sneaking their way in.
Good length, good pacing, smooth narration. Just a breeze to listen to. Near the top of my list of reccomended books.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
This has more sense about American heritage and politics in it than anything else I've ever read. Past really is prelude, and where we come from really does resonate through time.
If nothing else, it clarifies how different areas make their decisions and what they perceive as democracy. Get ready for the fact that it's not homogenous or the same.
Sadly no, I would not buy another book, given the author's highly politicized agenda. If one is a serious historian, one avoids politicizing, especially that of a blatant nature. The premise is good: namely that North America can historically be divided into eleven "nations", and can be better understood, by analyzing historical events and attitudes using such context. However, the author leaps into the present day and projects the nations of old as if they exist today, with unchanged attitudes over several centuries, and posits that is what we see today, attitudes that persist more aligned with the antebellum south and the reasons for the American Civil War. It's quite a leap! It presumes that attitudes never change, despite the lives and passing of many generations in between! (Shame!) To borrow from people of the author's ilk and the criticisms they use against opponents, it is a vast oversimplification that thoroughly misunderstands 21st century policies and the beliefs and attitudes of the people in those "nations". It is almost an insult. At the very end, the author glorifies the inhabitants of the "First Nation." Come on. Advocacy is not becoming to a work that wants to be taken seriously. I have no problems with such advocacy, but put it in a second book. Leave book one for an admirable thesis on "American Nations." Leave the politicizing to book two (so I don't have to buy it).
I have a lot to say about this book and really bought and read it as a reference to better understand the American regions for the sake of writing my own book. For America of a bygone age, yes it succeeds. For an understanding of modern America in the 21st century, it needs many more chapters, not merely the few 1 or 2 chapters near the end or the epilogue. I'd write a longer critique but sadly I don't have the time to reread this book. If you don't mind skipping the last few chapters of a book, it is somewhat interesting. I'd give this book an additional star or two, but the flaws in this book need to be pointed out.
As I've already summarized, the thesis of these separate American nations is interesting. As a historical work, it is of interest. As a modern work, it falls flat, unless the author could seamlessly transition to the present, by presenting far more to say why things haven't changed in over 200 years, and if indeed things haven't changed, by presenting more evidence. More work yes, but it makes this book seem better researched.
The narrator wasn't bad. My only complaint was that he sounded like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Is that the narrator's fault? Of course not. But it was slightly distracting nonetheless.
Yes, there are redeeming qualities. The first 75% of the book is worth reading, or listening to, as in my case. The last 25% really sank into severe politicizing. It's very annoying and detracts from the book (even though I don't come from Tidewater or the Deep South), turning it into a political tract instead of a scholarly work. But what else will you find in this day and age that we live in?
Report Inappropriate Content