American Nations

A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Colin Woodard - Author

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ISBN 9780143122029 | 384 pages | 25 Sep 2012 | Penguin | 8.26 x 5.23in | 18 - AND UP
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An endlessly fascinating look at American regionalism and the eleven "nations" that continue to shape North America

According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering a revolutionary and revelatory take on American identity, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and continue to mold our future. From the Deep South to the Far West, to Yankeedom to El Norte, Woodard reveals how each region continues to uphold its distinguishing ideals and identities today, with results that can be seen in the composition of the U.S. Congress or on the county-by-county election maps of presidential elections.


Origins: 1590 to 1769

Chapter 1: Founding El Norte
Chapter 2: Founding New France
Chapter 3: Founding Tidewater
Chapter 4: Founding Yankeedom
Chapter 5: Founding New Netherland
Chapter 6: The Colonies’ First Revolt
Chapter 7: Founding the Deep South
Chapter 8: Founding the Midlands
Chapter 9: Founding Greater Appalachia

Unlikely Allies: 1770 to 1815

Chapter 10: A Common Struggle
Chapter 11: Six Wars of Liberation
Chapter 12: Independence or Revolution?
Chapter 13: Nations in the North
Chapter 14: First Secessionists

Wars for the West: 1816 to 1877

Chapter 15: Yankeedom Spreads West
Chapter 16: The Midlands Spread West
Chapter 17: Appalachia Spreads West
Chapter 18: The Deep South Spreads West
Chapter 19: Conquering El Norte
Chapter 20: Founding the Left Coast
Chapter 21: War for the West

Culture Wars: 1878 to 2010

Chapter 22: Founding the Far West
Chapter 23: Immigration and Identity
Chapter 24: Gods and Missions
Chapter 25: Culture Clash
Chapter 26: War, Empire, and the Military
Chapter 27: The Struggle for Power I: The Blue Nations
Chapter 28: The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Acknowledgments and Suggested Reading

Winner of the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction

“Mr. Woodard’s approach is breezier than Mr. Fischer’s and more historical than Mr. Garreau’s, but he has earned a place on the shelf between them." — The Wall Street Journal

“[C]ompelling and informative.” — The Washington Post

“[A] fascinating new ethnographic history of North America.”
Alec MacGillis, The New Republic

“Provocative reading.” — News and Observer

“[American Nations] sets itself apart by delving deep into history to trace our current divides to ethno-cultural differences that emerged during the country’s earliest settlement.” — The New Republic, Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2011

“Fascinating…Engrossing…In the end…[American Nations] is a smart read that feels particularly timely now, when so many would claim a mythically unified ‘founding Fathers’ as their political ancestors.” — The Boston Globe

“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be….[A] fascinating new take on history.”

The Christian Science Monitor

“Woodard offers a fascinating way to parse American (writ large) politics and history in this excellent book.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“Colin Woodard debunks the simplistic notion of Left Coast, red state, blues state and other broad-brush efforts to peg America’s differences.…American Nations pulls off the unlikely feat of both offering the tools for just such a broader, deeper understanding—and demonstrates why, in a larger sense, that effort is doomed.…The key to the book’s effectiveness is Woodard’s skill—and irreverence—in delving into history with no qualms about being both brisk and contrarian.…[I]n offering us a way to better understand the forces at play in the rumpus room of current American politics, Colin Woodard has scored a true triumph. I am going to order copies for my father and sister immediately—and I hope Woodard gets a wide hearing for his fascinating study.” — The Daily Beast

“Provocative.” — Publishers Weekly

“[W]ell-researched analysis with appeal to both casual and scholarly readers.” — Library Journal

“Colin Woodard offers up an illuminating history of North America that explodes the red state-blue state myth.…Woodard’s American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America’s myriad identities, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our country’s past and mold its future.” —

“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading.…American Nations is important reading.” — St. Louis Dispatch

“[I]f you want to better understand U.S. politics, history, and culture American Nations is to be required reading.…By revealing this continent of rivals, American Nations will revolutionize the way Americans think about their past, their country, and themselves and is sure to spark controversy.” — The Herald Gazette

American Nations by journalist-historian Colin Woodard is a superb book. Woodard makes a compelling argument that the United Sates was founded by contradictory regional convictions that continue to influence current attitudes and policy on a national level.…American Nations smashes the idea of political borders.…There is much to grapple with in this well-written book.” — The Portland Press Herald

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