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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 (371 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Joshua VENICE, CA, United States 12-20-13
    Joshua VENICE, CA, United States 12-20-13 Member Since 2005

    Game developer and VFX industry vet.

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    "The most important work of US history available"
    What made the experience of listening to American Nations the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    If you could give American Nations a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A political primer that isnt 20th century revisionist nonsense


    Any additional comments?

    Buy this book

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Tishuk 11-19-13
    Evan Tishuk 11-19-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 09-29-13
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 09-29-13 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

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    "Fascinating!"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 09-26-13
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 09-26-13 Member Since 2005

    Evening and Weekend Manager Lone Star College-Greenspoint Center Houston, TX 77060

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    "A Sociological View of American History"

    American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard examines American history from a cultural perspective. The author suggests that North American is made up more by Nations than by states. Nations he argues are groups of people or regions sharing a common cultural, history and set of values. He posits that there are eleven such national regions in North America formed from the immigrant groups who had different heritages. Woodard describes how these different cultures divided the American people into slave owners versus abolitionists, central government advocates versus states’ rights proponents, and Tories versus revolutionaries. He argues that every major event and movement in American can be attributed to regional cultural differences that originated in our country’s early history and exist to the present.
    I enjoyed examining American history from a different perspective than I have in other sources I have studied. I recommend it to anyone truly interested American history or cultural issues.

    3 of 4 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 2010

    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.


    23 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas R. Henderson Asheville NC 02-27-14
    Nicholas R. Henderson Asheville NC 02-27-14 Member Since 2004

    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.


    18 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bookouri Commerce, GA, United States 12-16-13
    bookouri Commerce, GA, United States 12-16-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Enjoyed this book"
    Would you listen to American Nations again? Why?

    The author submits some interesting ideas that give you lots of things to ponder. I'll read it again some time just to see if I missed anything.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of American Nations?

    No one "memorable" moment. The book was a good consistent read from front o back.


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

    I don't really pay attention to who the readers are. I prefer books that are read by the authors themselves.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The concept of thinking of North America in more logical terms rather than the rather random political borders.


    Any additional comments?

    Toward the end of the book, I thought the author's arguments did not keep up with a changing world. To me the author's "regions" make more sense in a 19th century context than in the 21st century.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 11-18-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 11-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "One of the best books I've listened to"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 04-23-14
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 04-23-14 Member Since 2009

    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.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-09-14
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-09-14 Member Since 2011

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "American history in a new format!"

    This book has you looking at history and politics in a unique way. The author takes you through the original colonies and who the people involved with them were and how they thought, why they came to America and what their goals were.

    We can see that the people who settled in Jamestown were much different than the Pilgrims of Plymouth. One came here to escape religious persecution and build a paradise on earth while the other came to make money and nation build by conquering the indigenous tribes and further the British Empire. Very different goals and the colonies were on a collision course. It's a wonder that we survived as one nation at all.

    There are 11 different cultures in America all with differing goals and attitudes on what this country stands for. This is an interesting read and takes us from the 1500's to the present day with some future forecasts thrown in for good measure.

    The reason I didn't give it a 5 star was because I think some of the facts were skewed or out and out wrong. The Whiskey Rebellion was one and I will do further research to see if his conclusions are right.

    The narrator does a fine job.

    I do highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of this nation and it's political future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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