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)
American Nations is a fascinating look at the history of the United States and why different regions have so often been at odds with each other. The first half is one of the best books I've read all year. However, problems emerge when the author tries to explain the present and future of the "federation." Woodard is a much better historian than futurist and repeatedly loses sight of his main point as he gets sidetracked in the last several chapters.
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?
The first 2/3 in which the author establishes and supports his hypothesis is interesting and often convincing. The latter 1/3 however he betrays his own "nationality" in his very attempt at being Objective.
To be objective about one's own nation and culture is in itself a feature of the Post-Modern mind. The "Left Coast" with its universities, like Cathedrals of a new dispensation, have spread far and wide throughout the land.
The ironic, self-aware and glib tone of the college indoctucated IS the Shibboleth of the Left Coast nation.
This is not a novel! The rating for "Story" is required in order to proceed. But it is not a "story" per se.
The author either used a lot of air quotes in writing or the narrator caught the drift of the tone of the writing. Since I do not have the written text in any form, I cannot speak to the narrators usage of "air quotes".
No. It is non-fiction! Ken Burns.
I wish, wish, wish I had books like this when I was a child! I think state school education in pretty much any country aims for patriotism in place of understanding. I have spent the past few years looking for history that doesn't bore and this one qualifies.
The narrator could have taken more pride in his work. He is easy to listen to, but I'm a teacher and cannot stand sloppiness. I require proofreading of my students and certainly expected fewer errors here. Sometimes I had to check the kindle version to ascertain what was actually written.
Highly recommend. This is the more insightful perspective on American history which I've read/listened in a very long time. The tools for viewing history and modern American culture(s) gain through this book will "make everything make so much sense."
The telling of North American history with a large focus on the initial culture of a region. This is a unique telling with clear and reaching utility in interpreting culture and individuals.
Scene? This is non-fiction. But his discussion of Appalachian culture in a manner designed to not lampoon them as well as giving them the respect they deserve in historical context. Being from Louisville, I'm clearly within the Appalachian region; this work evoked pride within me for my own culture by not mocking, lampooning or disregarding my people.
A consequential retelling of a story oversold.
"Read" this book.
I liked how the author carved up the America into 11 smaller "nations". It provided a fresh perspective on how how conflicts we still face today can be found in the distrust and apathy that certain nations held against each other since the beginning. Great listen.
Great information as long as one can tolerate Mr. Dixon's narration. As soon as the recording started and I recognized Mr. Dixon's voice and style from other titles, I knew I was in for a hard listen. His narration is "nice" as when you can't find anything wrong with the person but you can't find anything good about the person either.
I read perhaps a 40% of American Nation before I couldn't take Mr. Dixon's narration any more. I will go back and read the book rather than listening to his narration. I will also be screening my purchases from now on to assure that I am not buying a book narrated by Mr. Dixon. To bad as there are a number of interesting titles that I would love to listen to. Then again, I can always *read* them.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
An interesting look at the clustering migration patterns that developed the fundamental differences in regional religious, political, and all other beliefs thought out the US today.
With all the polarity in USA, listening to American Nations is a must hear to anyone hoping for national unity.
The books ideas are interesting but the narration is difficult to tolerate. It sounds as if I am being read the book by my GPS navigation.
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