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)
Prior to reading this, I had an idea what I was getting into because I watched the youtube clip of the MSNBC interview with the author and I actually made it completely through the entire book. I made it a point to resist the urge to give Mr. Woodard a 1-star review because the first 2/3 or so of the book was interesting and entertaining. I tip my hat to Mr Woodard for teaching me previously unknown facts and a fresh take on US regionalism from our nation's nascent days. Then came the final 1/3 of the book when Mr. Woodard pulled out his political soapbox and began a relentless intense disparagement of his definition of the Deep South. Prior to the latter section of the book, I noted more than a few obvious biased anti-Southern remarks but at least his earlier denigrating remarks were somewhat sparse and cloaked with an attempt at facts, even if the facts were somewhat truncated and skewed. By the last 1/3 or so of his book, the gloves were completely off and in addition to Woodard's antipathy for all things Southern, we get a nice condescending dose of the typical liberal political planks. The author obviously loves all things New England, climate change, abortion (choice), big government, high taxes and secularism to name a few. He obviously dislikes all things Southern United States, corporations, all forms of warfare (all wars in our history were avoidable-yes, Woodard actually wrote that), and all forms of religion but especially Christianity. After reading this, I thank Mr. Woodard for giving me a tour through the liberal Yankee mind but I only hope all of New England or "Yankeedom" as he calls it, doesn't hold such a haughty attitude toward the South. When I've visited New England, more than once, sitting on a barstool, I've heard New Englanders laughingly refer to the South by saying, "The war's not over down there" and I now agree. The Civil War of 1861-1865 rages on, at least in the mind of Mr. Woodard. Hopefully, someday soon, he'll be able to call the social debt paid and his personal statute of limitations reached. The peoples of the South aren’t disappearing; they’re evolving. And so, we hope, is every other form of American.
The author gives an interesting account of us history but fails to give any explanation for much of anything; as is he is far to focused on details.
Near the end of the book the Author's explanations, which made sense at the beginning of the book, begin to fall apart. Author contradicts himself on many accounts.
The interpretation of American History in this book reveals and explains much of what is taking place today, in the second decade of the 21st century. Simply and profoundly presented, this should be required reading in all schools at the high school level.
Not bad in terms of content. the overview and origin story for each nation were the best parts. The latter chapters tended to bog down in terms of regional stereotypes. Also, does not really deal with the transcience of American society and the influence of media that neutralizes definitive boundaries between the groups.
The information is highly interesting but is sometimes dry and confusing. Multiple terms for one concept leads the reader/listener to follow many routes of thought, making the information less clear than it could be. But very interesting nonetheless.
A very well researched and organized explanation of how "things" started and got to be where they are today, and whrre we might be headed. "Things" being the sociopolitical situation in US and nearby North America.
You'll never understand our crazy politics and declining empires unless you read this book. No book I've read does a better or more comprehensive job.
I'd never heard North American history through the specific lens of 11 culturally distinct nations. This was a great introspective that covers US history very thoroughly.
A highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand America, and her subcultures better. As an American expat who finds myself constantly explaining how "American culture" doesn't really exist- this book provides some great evidence to point.
Couldn't put it down! Woodard connected SO many dots that I have and have not seen before, creating "ah ha" moments for me in every chapter. A relevant must read for all Americans, particularly now in the middle of an election season to help make sense of nonsense. Thank you for this amazing, eye-opening education presented succinctly and compellingly. The reader did an excellent job as well.
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